Breast cancer has grown to represent over 15% of cancer cases, only second to skin cancer. In the United States, every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.
These statistics can be scary, but every woman can commit to breast cancer prevention to decrease their chances of developing breast cancer and improve their chances of early detection.
Breast Cancer Prevention
At Leonard Cancer Institute, we know that prevention is an important factor in fighting cancer. We’ve compiled a list of ways that women can prevent and detect breast cancer.
Limit alcohol consumption and don’t smoke.
Drinking in moderation has been proven to be a great aid in preventing heart disease, but drinking, even in moderation, is linked to an increase in breast cancer. Smoking increases the likelihood of developing many types of cancer, including breast cancer. By quitting smoking, you improve your quality of life and decrease your likelihood of developing cancer.
Control your weight and stay active.
Maintaining a healthy weight also is a key factor in preventing breast cancer. Women with excess weight are more likely to develop many different types of cancer, including breast cancer. This risk increases in women that have gone through menopause. Staying active at least 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of breast cancer and can help control weight.
Breastfeed after giving birth
Breastfeeding can be beneficial for both you and for your child. The activity in ducts and glands in the breasts can decrease the risk of developing breast cancer.
Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy and birth control pills
Using hormones have risks and benefits. Taking birth control and postmenopausal hormone therapies can increase the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer. If you are actively looking for ways to prevent the development of breast cancer, limiting the amount of additional hormone medication you take can help.
What Else Can I Do?
Genetic testing and family history
Some women are at higher risk of developing breast cancer than others. Knowing your family history can help you predict what to expect. Genetic testing has become a great aid in determining the likelihood of developing cancer. The presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 can identify whether you are at risk of developing breast cancer in your lifetime. If you have any questions about your family history and want to assess your risk for developing cancer, genetic testing is offered by Leonard Cancer Institute. Knowing your risk is the first step to getting ahead of a potential diagnosis.
Once past the age of 40, women can begin to get regular screenings for breast cancer. These screenings typically start at 45, but a doctor may recommend them sooner if a woman is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is not a prevention tactic, but it will catch cancer earlier and improve treatment options.
Medication to reduce breast cancer risk
Medications have become a great resource to combat breast cancer in the last decade. been approved to prevent the lower the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Drugs like tamoxifen and raloxifene can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Only a doctor can identify your need for medication to reduce your breast cancer risk. Learn more about prevention medicine at cancer.org
In some cases where genetics and risk factors are too great it is safer for women to preemptively undergo double mastectomies. Women with these factors often consider prophylactic mastectomy:
- A strong family history of breast cancer among women under 50.
- Having a BRCA or other gene mutation
- A personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
Mastectomies remove breast tissue and glands that are likely to develop cancer. These surgeries are often followed by breast reconstruction. There are several different preventative mastectomy options. To learn more about the process visit the Mayo Clinic.
The decision to get a mastectomy is discussed thoroughly with health care providers, genetic counselors, and psychologists. Surgery may not be the approach that your doctor recommends. It is important to discuss all of your options with a doctor before coming to a conclusion about your treatment.
Self-administered breast exams
Exams, while not exactly preventative, can help early breast cancer treatment. It is recommended to perform a self-examination at least once a month. While no one method can detect breast cancer early, a self-exam can find lumps that concern women enough to speak to their regular doctor about further screenings. When performing your self-examination it is important to catalog any possible breast cancer symptoms including dimpling, nipple position, swelling, or rashes you’ve spotted to discuss them with your doctor. To learn more about tactics to perform breast self-exams go to breastcancer.org
There is no cut and dry method for predicting whether a woman will develop breast cancer. Some women may be genetically predisposed to cancer and never develop it. Other women will have no genetic predisposition and will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
It is important to improve breast cancer awareness among women. Recognizing breast cancer symptoms of cancer can help to prevent the development and progression of cancer.
If you are looking for help with lowering your risk for breast cancer, treatment, or wellness please visit Leonard Cancer Institute on social media or call the institute directly at (844) 959-HOPE.
We’re here for you, whenever you need us.