Breast cancer research rolls forward.

Positive progress worth sharing.

The words “cancer” and “good news” may not seem like they go together. But when it comes to breast cancer, we think there are some positive facts worth sharing.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), researchers are continuing to explore better ways to prevent, detect and treat breast cancer. And newer therapies and approaches may help women with breast cancer have fewer side effects — and a better quality of life — during and after treatment.

But perhaps the best news about breast cancer is that survival rates continue to climb.1

Thank you, mammogram!

The NCI says that much of the credit goes to screening mammography — which remains the best way to find breast cancer early. Breast cancer found early is often the easiest to successfully treat.

Most women ages 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every 2 years, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. You and your doctor may decide that you should be screened earlier or more often, depending on your risks for breast cancer.*

How to help protect yourself.

You get your screenings regularly, but what other steps can you take? We may not have a single proven way to prevent breast cancer yet. But research continues to reveal steps you can take in your daily life to help lower your risk for developing the disease. According to the NCI, that includes:

Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.

Be active.** Regular exercise may offer protection by helping women control their weight — and by lowering hormone levels.

Think before you drink. Avoiding alcohol — or limiting yourself to no more than one drink per day — could help reduce your risk.

What to do next

Step up for a mammogram. Not sure if you need one? Talk with your doctor. To help get the conversation started, here’s a checklist of questions regarding breast cancer risk.

You might also ask whether you’d benefit from 3-D mammography. Some doctors may consider this type of mammogram for women with dense breasts.***

*Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.

**For safety’s sake, talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.

***Effective April 1, 2017, UnitedHealthcare began providing coverage for three-dimensional (3-D) mammography, for breast cancer screening and diagnostic testing. Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.

1Death rates fell an average of 1.8 percent each year over 2006-2015; National Cancer InstituteOpens a new window.

Sources: American Cancer Society; American Society of Clinical Oncology; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Cancer Institute; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force