Breast Health Tips
Early Breast Cancer Detection
Experts recommend that women get to know their own bodies: Report any changes in your breasts to your medical provider right away and talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer and when to be screened. Medical experts also recommend:
- Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year.
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of their health exam by a health professional, preferably every one to three years.
- Breast self-exam (BSE): Experts now recommend that women get to know their own bodies and watch for any changes. BSE should be done by women monthly, starting in their 20s. You should report any changes in your breast health to your doctor right away. Please visit Sisters by Choice for more information.
Reduce Your Risk
Here are some breast health tips to help reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Know your family history. You are at increased risk for breast cancer if you have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) that has been diagnosed before the age of 50. Speak with your medical provider about your breast cancer risk and additional steps you can take to reduce your risk. To learn more, visit www.knowbrca.org.
- Get some exercise. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals do moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. If you're looking for ways to get some exercise while fighting breast cancer, consider signing up for The Pink Ribbon Walk.
- Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. These studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with increasing alcohol intake. Oncologists recommend limiting your alcoholic beverages to 3 drinks a week.
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke has a carcinogenic effect and is an established risk factor for lung cancer. More and more studies are showing a possible link between cigarette smoke and breast cancer. Exposure to smoking and secondhand smoke should be avoided, particularly during childhood, puberty, pregnancy, and when breastfeeding.
- Avoid exposures to exogenous estrogens. The Women's Health Initative (WHI) showed that when compared to a placebo, women taking an estrogen + progesterone combination had a risk of increased breast cancer. Estrogen use alone had an uncertain effect on breast cancer. Use hormone replacement therapy only if absolutely necessary. Use for as short a time as possible and discuss alternatives with your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy weight. It is known that women who gain more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of breast cancer (postmenopausal) compared to women whose weight remains stable.
- Reduce fat intake and eat fruits, vegetables, and other high fiber foods. Nutrition plays a vital role in your health.
Know Your Resources, Contact Our Breast Surgical Oncologists!
Don't overlook your own breast health. Survival rates increase dramatically in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer early. If you are underinsured or uninsured there are multiple resources to help you. For more information visit NCI or Sisters by Choice.