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Wellness Watch - Breast Cancer

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer. It’s estimated around 300,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. That represents more than 15% of all new cancer cases in the U.S. Men get breast cancer, too, but around 99% of cases are in women.

Among women, the median age for diagnosis is 63. The 5-year survival rate is almost 91%. Still, it’s estimated more than 43,000 American women will die of breast cancer this year. Only lung cancer kills more women each year.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing can identify genetic mutations that put you at high risk of developing breast cancer or other hereditary cancers.  We screen a sample of your blood.  If you have a positive test, we provide genetic counseling and can take steps to make it less likely you’ll get cancer or to make sure we find it early.

Every new patient at the Phoebe Cancer Center – and every patient who receives a mammogram at the Carlton Breast Health Center and some other Phoebe locations – is screened to determine if they need comprehensive genetic testing.  If you are concerned about your risk because of a personal or family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor or call the Phoebe Cancer Center at 229-312-7124 for more information about genetic testing.

Dr. Troy Kimsey is a surgical oncologist who serves as Phoebe’s Medical Director of Oncology.  Watch this video to hear him discuss genetic testing and breast cancer care available at the Phoebe Cancer Center.

When Should Women Get A Mammogram

Phoebe recommends women at average risk for breast cancer begin getting annual mammogram screenings starting at age 40.  Women with a family history of breast cancer may need to start earlier.  If your mother had breast cancer, you should begin annual screenings when you are 10 years younger than her age when she was diagnosed.  For instance, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40, you should get your first mammogram by age 30.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age.
  • Genetic mutations. Women who have inherited changes to certain genes are at higher risk.
  • Family history. Even if you did not inherit the genes that increase your risk of breast cancer, your risk is higher if you have a mother, sister or daughter or multiple family members on either side of your family who have had breast cancer.
  • Dense breasts. Women whose breasts have more connective tissue than fatty tissue are more likely to get breast cancer.
  • Reproductive history. Starting menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55 put you at higher risk.
  • Being taller. Studies have found that taller women have a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Inactivity. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Being overweight after menopause.
  • Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy taken for more than five years can raise the risk of breast cancer.
  • Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases the more alcohol she drinks.

Learn more about the Phoebe Cancer Center at

You can also find much more information on breast cancer from reliable sources at: