A total of 1 in 18 women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime; Understanding the risks and living a proactive lifestyle may help you from being one of them. Despite your age, sex, and genetics, you can be a responsible prevention advocate by taking the necessary measures to protect and monitor your health on a regular basis.
Prevention methods can save your life! Breast cancer screenings (mammograms) are still the primary tool used for early detection and is deemed the most important strategy in improving survival rates.
Mammography is an X-ray examination of the breast. It can detect cancer in the breast when it is quite small, long before it may be felt by an at home breast examination. Approximately 85%-90% of all breast cancers are detectable by mammography. Early detection is the key to reducing mortality rates, reducing rates by 20%-30% in women over 50 years of age.
While mammography is the primary tool used, there still exist some 10%-15% of breast cancers that are not visible on mammography; however, they can be felt by performing a physical examination of the breast. Therefore, a normal mammogram does not always exclude the possibility of breast cancer. Three things are needed for a thorough examination by your health care provider, palpation, visual inspection, and a mammogram. Typically, during a routine physical checkup, your gynecologist will conduct an examination of the breast. You should also do a palpation exam yourself on a regular basis.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a baseline mammogram for all women by age 40 and annual mammograms for women 40 and older for as long as they are in good health. A baseline mammogram at 35 years of age may be recommended by your doctor if you have “lumpy breasts” or breast symptoms, or are at high risk of developing breast cancer. Screenings are extremely important, but so is living a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness.
MINIMIZE YOUR RISK:
1. Reduce saturated fats (red meats, egg yolks, dairy products, fast food)
2. Reduce alcohol consumption
3. Exercise regularly (At least 30 minutes 5 times per week)
4. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables (antioxidant powerhouses)
Do your part to prevent the possibility of developing breast cancer, schedule regular breast exams, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. If you are currently at high risk, switch to a healthy lifestyle today and call your doctor now to set up your next breast exam–it could save your life!