Women should talk with their medical provider about breast cancer screening options.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Faith Community Health System (FCHS) is encouraging women in the region to talk with their medical providers about their risks of developing breast cancer, learn about self-exams, and determine regular screening schedules.

In 2020 alone, it is estimated that 19,590 women in Texas will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Upwards of 3,060 Texans are expected to die because of the disease.

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from the breast tissue and, like many other cancers, can quickly spread to other parts of the body if not detected early.

When detected in its first stage, breast cancer survival rates for women are nearly 99 percent at five years. However, by Stage 3, survival rates at five years fall to about 57 percent.

In addition to monthly self-exams, the American Cancer Society recommends a mammogram every year for women ages 45 to 54 and every two years for women ages 55 and older.

Family history also plays a role in how frequently a woman should undergo screening. A physician can recommend a screening schedule based on a woman’s family cancer history and other health considerations.

The Texas Department of State Health Services estimates that approximately 33.6 percent of women in Texas over the age of 40 have not had a mammogram within the past two years.

A doctor’s order is not required for breast cancer screening. Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health plans cover all or part of the cost of these screenings.

Scheduling a wellness exam with a healthcare provider is an excellent opportunity to discuss breast cancer risks and screenings. Locally, Faith Community Rural Health Clinics convenient choices for primary medical care services, with locations in Jacksboro, Bowie, or Alvord.