person with pink band on her left hand

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Oncologist Shahid Waheed, M.D., FACP, from Lake Regional Cancer Center encourages all women to learn how to reduce their breast cancer risk.

“Women can’t control every risk factor, but they can take steps to lower their chance of developing breast cancer,” Dr. Waheed said. “They also can take steps to catch it early if it does occur.”

The following steps are a good place to start.

  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks.
  • If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
  • Breastfeed your children, if possible.
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
  • Get regular mammograms. For women at average risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends:

o   Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.

o   Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.

o   Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year, or they can choose to continue yearly mammograms. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.

o   All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do.

“There are many benefits to committing to a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Waheed said. “I encourage women to prioritize self-care, for their sake and the sake of all who love them.”

First Mammo? Check!

Are you ready to check that first mammogram off your list? Lake Regional is making it easy with this special scheduling opportunity just for first-timers. Conveniently scheduled on a Saturday, the Pinktober Mammothon is for you if you are at least 40 years old; have never before received a mammogram; and are free of breast lumps and pain. Plus, all participants will receive a pink gift! Learn more and request an appointment at


Show Me Healthy Women

Routine Pap tests and mammograms can keep you safe and healthy. But not all women have access to these lifesaving exams. If you cannot afford a mammogram or Pap test, you may be eligible for free exams and follow-up treatment through Missouri’s Show Me Healthy Women program. See if you qualify today. Call Lake Regional Obstetrics and Gynecology at 573-302-2764 in Osage Beach or 573-557-2553 in Eldon.