Illustration of three women, one holding a pink ribbon

Breast cancer has few limits. It impacts everyone, not only those with the diagnosis. The most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in women, it affects one in eight females in their lifetime, according to Breastcancer.org. Knowing the risk factors and your family health history, and keeping up with regular exams and screenings can improve one's chances of surviving the disease.

Know your risk factors

Risk factors can be broken into two camps: those you can control and those you can't.

Here's what you can impact:

  • Weight
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to estrogen (e.g., through hormone replacement therapy or drinking too much alcohol)
  • Use of oral contraceptives

What's out of your control?

  • Gender: While women are at a greater risk for breast cancer, men can get it too. Learn how it impacts men.
  • Age: The older you are, the higher your risk factor. Two out of three women with invasive cancer are diagnosed after age 55.
  • Family history: If a first-degree relative had breast cancer or ovarian cancer, you may be at a greater risk for getting it.
  • Race: Caucasian women are slightly more likely to contract the disease than women of other races.
  • Personal history: If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer already, your risk of getting it again goes up.
  • Early menstruation (before age 12)
  • Late menopause (after 55)
  • Having children later in life or never having had children
  • Genetic mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2)
  • Dense breast tissue

Regardless of your risks, it's wise to talk to your doctor about lifestyle choices that can lower your risk of getting cancer.

Look after your breast health

Catching breast cancer early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25-30 percent or more, according to Breastcancer.org. That's why it's vital to keep up with monthly breast self-exams, annual clinical exams and screenings.

A mammogram is the best way to find cancer even before symptoms appear. The American Cancer Society recommends women between the ages of 45 and 54 get screened every year. Women in a high-risk category may start at an earlier age. See covered preventive services.

Since early detection is the best protection, most Regence health plans cover annual in-network mammograms at 100 percent. We also offer other tools and programs to help you be proactive about your health, including:

  • Find a doctor: Schedule your annual breast exam or mammogram with a provider in your network.
  • Cost estimator: Shop around and compare your out-of-pocket costs for a mammogram, based on your health benefits.
  • Guidance and support: If you're diagnosed with breast cancer, contact us and we'll connect you with helpful resources available through your benefits.

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