We all hope that there won’t be a need for awareness campaigns for any disease, but until then, the annual, national Breast Cancer Awareness Month does so many good things. It raises funds for research and support, educates the public and brings millions together on a mission to find a cure.

While the work continues to eradicate this cancer, according to the American Cancer Society there will be an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. The good news is that the combination of early detection with treatment advancements is working – over 2.9 million breast cancer survivors (both female and male) are alive in the U.S. today.

While the suggested ages and frequencies of mammograms have changed more over the last several years causing confusion, remember they are just guidelines. That’s why it is critical to have a conversation with your doctor about what is best for you. You can find a helpful list of questions for your physician here. Together, you can consider factors such as family history and genetic tendencies to determine when and how often to have a mammogram.

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but there are things you can do that might lower your risk. Body weight, physical activity, and diet have all been linked to breast cancer, so these might be areas where you can take action. For those who have certain risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history, there are medical options to speak with a physician about such as drug treatments and surgery. Read the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention to learn more.

Pearson Benefits believes very strongly in the power of preventive medicine and strongly urges you and your covered dependents to take advantage of the screenings covered at 100% (includes no copay). Check out the list today, and then make the appointments that apply to you or your loved ones. Consider it a gift to yourself.

Effective January 1, 2017, the Basic and Enhanced PPO Plans administered by Anthem and Cigna will cover 3D mammography for routine breast cancer screening. As a reminder, the PPO plans cover the first mammography of the calendar year at 100%.