The fight against breast cancer is apparent every October – as patients, survivors, family and friends, health care providers, and communities rally in pink to spread awareness of the disease, which has cut far too many lives short. While breast cancer death rates decline, the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women will still claim the lives of more than 40,000 women, as well as more than 400 men this year. Of the more than 200,000 women and men diagnosed with breast cancer, many will face a tough battle that includes surgery, debilitating rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and the future health of generations in question. For those fighting and those who will be diagnosed, researchers continue to improve early detection, treatment and work to better understand what we can do to prevent breast cancer. Today, this is what we know you can do to detect breast cancer as early as possible and help lower your own personal risk of developing breast cancer altogether.
Know your family history and keep your health care provider updated.
Get regular mammogram screenings beginning at the age of 40.
Get clinical breast exams every three years from the age of 20 to 39 and once a year after the age of 40.
Conduct regular self-breast exams beginning at the age of 20 and report any changes to your health care provider.
Maintain a healthy body weight.
Get regular moderate to rigorous physical activity.
Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
You can also get a better idea of your own personal risk through an online risk assessment tool provided by scientists from the National Cancer Institute. Click here to take the short assessment quiz. Also, if you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your health care provider about genetic testing available and if it is right for you. Utica Park Clinic breast surgeon Dr. Laurie Flynn shares the importance of having this conversation, as researchers continue to learn more about genetic mutations increasing the risk for developing breast cancer.
Click here to learn more about the Leta M. Chapman Breast Center at Hillcrest.