NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Breast Cancer Awareness Month is October, and it’s a great time to be aware of your health and schedule an exam.

According to a news release, Essentia Health wants women to have a clinical breast exam every year, and between appointments, women can be aware of what their breasts normally look and feel.

One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Besides skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but when it’s caught in early stages and localized, the five-year survival rate is 99%.

Women should see their provider if they are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • A painful or itchy nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple without squeezing
  • Swelling, redness, warmth, or darkening of the breast
  • Lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm area
  • A change in skin texture
  • A changing of the nipple position or shape
  • New pain in one spot that does not go away

Women who have an average risk should get a screening mammogram every year starting at 40 years old. These screenings can be scheduled with your primary care provider.

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of breast tissue, and routine screenings can help detect breast cancer before symptoms.

Essentia has digital 2-D and 3-D mammograms. The 3-D mammogram takes pictures from different angles and produces an image of breast tissue that is examined layer by layer.

If needed, there are ultrasounds and breast MRIs for further imaging.

“The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends women undergo a breast cancer risk assessment at age 25 to develop a breast screening plan tailored to each individual’s family history and personal health history,” said Brittani Boehlke-Fiecke, a certified physician assistant specializing in breast health, hematology, and oncology. “Your risk for breast cancer depends on many factors, and our team is here to help.”

The High-Risk Breast Cancer Program through Essentia Health puts a focus on helping patients understand their risk of breast cancer development.

After going through history, an examination, and an education session, the patient and a nurse practitioner from the program will work together to make a personalized plan of care.

But there are some things women can do to lower their risk of breast cancer. Those things include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Limiting hormone use
  • Breastfeeding, if possible
  • Avoiding tobacco products