Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (And it can affect men, too!) During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to educate yourself about breast cancer prevention and detection, including reducing the risk of breast cancer and increasing the chances of detecting breast cancer early. Unfortunately, getting older is a breast cancer risk factor you cannot change. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50. But don’t get discouraged! Remember that staying informed and taking an active role in your health can help you carry out the motto “long live life.” Here are three important things to remember.
1. There are risk factors you can change
While age, genetic mutations, reproductive history and family history are things you cannot change about breast cancer risk, the CDC points out that there are risk factors you can change. These include:
- Lack of physical activity
- Being overweight or obese
- Taking hormones
- Reproductive history
- Drinking alcohol
Make meaningful changes in your lifestyle that can reduce your risk of breast cancer and help boost your overall health so you can go forth and live life boldly. Exercise, limit your alcohol intake, and get your screening mammogram each year!
2. Screening helps catch breast cancer early and means a better chance of survival
Breast cancer screening means getting your breasts checked before there are signs or symptoms of cancer. Screening cannot prevent cancer, but it can help find breast cancer early when it is easy to treat. Regular mammograms, known as an x-ray picture of the breast, are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt says the CDC. Currently, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends women ages 50 to 74 at average risk get a mammogram every two years. If you have questions about breast cancer screening or risk factors, always ask your doctor.
3. Understand Medicare costs for breast cancer screening
Original Medicare covers one baseline mammogram if you’re a woman between ages 35-39, screening mammograms once every 12 months if you’re a woman age 40 or older and diagnostic mammograms more frequently than once a year, if determined medically necessary. The cost of the screening mammogram test is covered in full if your doctor accepts Medicare and you would be responsible 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for a diagnostic mammogram, and your Part B deductible would also apply. Medicare Advantage plans will always cover the same services as Original Medicare, and specific coverage varies by plan. ApexHealth members with questions about coverage for breast cancer screenings can always ask an ApexAssistant.
For all matters related to your medical health, we recommend contacting your doctor or healthcare provider directly. For any questions related to ApexHealth or our Medicare Advantage plans, give us a call at (844) 279-0508 (TTY: 711) to speak with an ApexAssistant. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Apr. 1 through Sept. 30 and seven days a week 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (local time) from Oct. 1 through Mar. 31.