Though one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, statistics from the United Medical Center in the District of Columbia show that the city leads the nation in breast cancer incidences and mortality rates.

In observance of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, officials from the health care center, located in southeast D.C., are focusing on the value of screening and early detection, as well as treatment options available to women and men who are diagnosed with one of the many forms of breast cancer, a disease that kills nearly 41,000 each year.

In D.C., 153.1 per 100,000 persons are diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to the U.S. average of 122.0, according to UMC statistics. The city’s breast cancer mortality rate is 26.3 per 100,000, well above the national average of 21.5.

“While there are many new developments in the treatment of breast cancer, the best thing to do when it comes to breast cancer is early detection,” said Dr. Raymond Tu, chair of the radiology department at United Medical Center. “The earlier we diagnose the cancer, the better the chances we can successfully treat it. Any woman, particularly those over 40, should be examined and be tested as recommended by your care provider.”

According to UMC statistics, one in six breast cancer incidents occur in women aged 40-49 and an estimated 230,000 women will develop breast cancer this year. Nearly 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least five years.

As part of UMC’s annual breast cancer awareness campaign, Tu and his team of technologists and caring staff are collectively leading efforts on breast cancer early detection, screening and treatment.

Tu offers the following tips on how to prevent breast cancer:

  • Limit alcohol and don’t smoke. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Some studies also link smoking to increase risks of developing breast cancer.
  • Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. The recommended activity is 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Your doctor will balance your overall risk and benefits to replacement treatment.

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