It’s October! Are you due for a mammogram?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends that women get a mammogram every other year from age 50 to 70. Between the ages of 40-49 it should be an individual discussion between you and your doctor.

“Screening allows us to detect cancer early, before it spreads,” says Safina Koreishi, MD, and medical director for Columbia Pacific CCO.

Tell your doctor if other women in your family have had breast cancer. This may affect how often you are screened. If there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, share that information with younger women in the family, so they can talk to their doctor.

Breast cancer is scary, but mammograms don’t have to be.

“Staff are highly trained and know how to reduce discomfort,” says Dr. Koreishi. “The procedure is quick. It takes only a few minutes for most women.”

Breast cancer is the second most-common cancer in women after skin cancer. And, like using sunscreen to protect skin, you can take steps that may lower your risk of breast cancer.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor about a healthy weight for you, based on your age and health condition.
  • Stay physically active. At almost any stage of health, there are activities that can help you improve fitness. If you have limited mobility, your doctor may be able to identify activities you can do in your home.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Have at least five servings a day, and more is better. A serving is a half-cup, or the amount that could fit in the palm of your hand.
  • Quit smoking--or don’t start. Oregon offers resources to help you quit: toll-free 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or 855-DEJELO-YA (855-335-3569); TTY 711. If you’re our member, tell the operator you are an Oregon Health Plan member.
  • Limit alcohol. Health guidelines suggest that women limit themselves to an average of one drink per day. You and your doctor may discuss what’s best for you, based on your overall health.

If you don’t remember the last time you had a mammogram, talk with your doctor about scheduling one at your annual well-woman visit.

“Regular screening saves lives,” says Dr. Koreishi.

Ride to medical appointments

Members of the Oregon Health Plan can get a ride to their mammogram if they need help with transportation. Our members can call NW Rides, 888-793-0439.

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