October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual observance to increase awareness of the disease.
Despite advances in detection and treatment, breast cancer remains the second most common cancer among women in the United States, after skin cancer. Each year more than 250,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It affects women of all ages and backgrounds and, while rare, men can develop breast cancer too.
The best way to fight breast cancer is through early detection, since it’s usually curable early on. And because breast cancer can occur with no symptoms, women should know their risk factors and be diligent about following screening guidelines.
Don’t put off having a mammogram because of fears about COVID-19. Healthcare facilities have procedures in place to keep patients safe during a visit, and medical experts agree that, except in places experiencing a severe COVID-19 outbreak, the risk from skipping a test is greater than the risk from going to a hospital or clinic. If you are tempted to skip a screening, talk to your primary care doctor or gynecologist about your concerns.
Men can show their support by encouraging the women in their lives to get screened. And, keep an eye out for signs of breast cancer in men. See a doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms: a lump or swelling, skin dimpling or puckering, redness or scaling, nipple retraction (turning inward), or discharge.
Employees and their spouses with medical coverage* through the Board of Pensions can have annual preventive care visits with their network gynecologist and get recommended screenings without paying a copay, deductible, or copayment. Plus, the visit can be used to meet the preventive exam requirement for Call to Health.
If you see your gynecologist for any symptoms, the visit is considered a sick visit; regular plan provisions (copay, deductible, and/or copayment) apply for the visit and any treatment or tests.
*Those enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan also have preventive care benefits under their plans, but coverage details may differ. Consult your plan’s provisions for details. Call to Health is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.