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Prevent Cancer Foundation Releases New Research About Breast Cancer Screenings

1 in 10 women over the age of 40 have never been screened for breast cancer

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Each October, as we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a sobering statistic continues to take center stage: one in eight women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. Just as alarming are the findings of the annual survey from the Prevent Cancer Foundation, which shows one in 10 women ages 40 and older have never had a breast cancer screening.

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The 2023 report from the Prevent Cancer Foundation reveals that 65 percent of Americans 21 years of age and older say they are not up to date with one or more routine cancer screenings, including a third of women ages 40 and older who are behind on their breast cancer screening.  

Because most women don’t experience signs or symptoms of cancer until it’s in advanced stages, this and other findings from the foundation’s first annual Early Detection Survey emphasize the need for education surrounding the importance of early detection. 

“We have come a long way in being able to find breast cancers early to achieve better outcomes, but in order to take advantage of improved technologies and treatments, we need women to get breast cancer screenings,” said Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “By understanding the problem—the real reasons people aren’t going to the doctor—and working to address the issues identified, we can increase screening rates and empower people to stay ahead of cancer.” 

Early detection can mean less extensive treatment, more treatment options, and better chances of survival. Wondering why women might be avoiding getting an annual breast cancer screening? Survey participants cite an inability to afford the cost (31 percent), lack of symptoms (25 percent), and a fear of a cancer diagnosis (22 percent) as top reasons for not being up to date on their breast cancer screening. Additionally, 16 percent of women who are not up to date on their breast cancer screening note time is a barrier to staying up to date—saying they’re either too busy or are unable to take time off from work.

Some of the barriers mentioned above are a result of social determinants of health (SDOH), or conditions in the environments where people live that impact their health, wellbeing, and quality of life. SDOH significantly influence a person’s health care journey and can impact access to insurance or preventive care, like routine cancer screenings. 

The survey also highlights how Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by these factors, with Hispanic participants reporting significantly lower rates for breast cancer screening (46 percent) than Black participants (61 percent) and white participants (63 percent). While the rate of breast cancer is highest among white people, studies report higher death rates among Black people, illustrating a need for continued research and action to eliminate disparities and achieve better outcomes across all populations. 

Breast cancer is highly curable if detected in its early stages before it has spread to surrounding areas of the breast. Getting routine screenings as recommended is key to discovering better outcomes for a disease that takes the lives of more than 40,000 people in the U.S. every year.

According to the National Comprehensive Network, people of average risk should follow these screening guidelines:

From ages 25 to 39: Three-year check-up

Talk with your health care provider at least once every three years for risk assessment, risk reduction counseling, and a clinical breast exam.

Beginning at age 40: Annual check-up and 2D OR 3D screening mammogram (breast tomosynthesis)

See your health care provider for risk assessment, risk reduction counseling, and a clinical breast exam. Get your screening mammogram annually if you are at average risk. Discuss the benefits and risks of screening tests with your health care provider and talk about which screening method is right for you.

Menopause: Hormone replacement therapy

Talk with your health care provider about breast cancer risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.