How Breast Cancer Awareness Can Help our Female Drivers

October is breast cancer awareness month, and as our Director of Social Media pointed out earlier this month, the statistics are staggering. It is estimated that about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is also the second most common type of cancer found in women (behind skin cancer). And while there is currently no cure, doctors advise that early detection is the best protection. Monthly self-examinations and yearly mammograms can very literally save your life.

As the transportation industry grows, so does the number of women in trucking. It can be difficult for women working in a traditionally male-led industry to prioritize their health and wellness, especially women out on the road where scheduling is difficult. As prominent news anchor, Katie Couric, suggests, one checkup can save your life. Couric was recently diagnosed with breast cancer after a yearly exam.

It's very important to get mammograms. It's our main intervention to diagnose breast cancer earlier, and early diagnosis helps to decrease mortality, together with all the other improvements in treatment we currently have. Small, early-stage tumors typically need less surgical treatment, and if the tumor is very small, five millimeters or less, it doesn’t need chemotherapy. Breast cancer management typically requires a multi-disciplinary approach: surgery, radiation, and medical therapy. However, the treatment is much lighter if you're diagnosed at an early stage. The prognosis for patients with early-stage breast cancer is much better. —University of Colorado Cancer Center

What You Need to Know

Most women know to get an annual mammogram at age 40 but there are some anomalies to consider like if your family includes women with genetic mutations predisposing to early onset breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and other cancers. It is suggested that women in these families may need genetic counseling and genetic testing with screenings as recommended by their doctors. Otherwise, Colorado Cancer Center recommends the following:

  • Women between 40 and 44 should be involved in a discussion about breast cancer screening and have the option to start yearly mammograms.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get yearly mammograms.
  • Women 55 and older can continue yearly mammograms or switch to mammograms every other year.

While breast cancer mortality has decreased to 40% from a decade ago, women are still struggling. The CDC has published the following stats that are still concerning.

  • Each year in the United States, about 264,000 women get breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease.
  • Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States is found in a man.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.

6 Ways to Reduce the Risks

While regular self-exams and annual mammograms are vital, there are other ways to reduce the risks of breast cancer especially if you are predisposed to a positive diagnosis.

  1. Plant-based diet: A Harvard study explains that those women eating fruits and veg were at a lower risk of breast cancer especially more aggressive tumors.
  2. Regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight: The correlation between obesity and breast cancer shows increased risks, particularly after menopause.
  3. Smoking: It goes without saying that smoking is a leading cause of cancer overall and that includes breast cancer
  4. Alcohol: Avoid or reduce alcohol. Heavy drinkers and binge drinkers are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  5. Avoid hormone therapy: Hormone replacement therapy is used to treat women with severe symptoms of menopause. However, studies suggest that HRT can increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
  6. Get good sleep: Just like exercise, a healthy sleeping pattern (7-9 hours) can help to avoid the risk of breast cancer.

It might be a challenge for women drivers on the road to follow this guide but it’s not impossible and could very well save your life. The most important thing is to pay attention to your body and get regular check-ups.

So, this October, make an appointment if you have not already, or spread the word if you are a male colleague as concerned for our female drivers as much as we are.


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