As we get older, our risk of breast cancer increases. According to BreastCancer.org, one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are some action items that are crucial in early detection of breast cancer.
What we know: The two most common risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older. Breast cancer incidence generally increases with age. While breast cancer increases with age, all women are at risk.
Family History/Genetics: Research indicates that women who have a close blood relative with breast cancer have a higher incidence of risk. Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer almost doubles that risk.
Breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor is small, the most common physical sign is a painless lump which is why screening is important for early detection.
• Annual mammogram: Early detection will increase chances of survival. Schedule an annual mammogram on your birthday.
• Self and clinical examinations: If you are unsure about self-examinations, schedule a yearly clinical examination with your doctor on your birthday.
• Make healthy lifestyle choices: Gaining weight after menopause increases a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. Incorporate healthy diet and exercise into your daily routine to help manage and maintain good health. Nature is a natural prescription for good health.
• Limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol also increases the risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women who drink have no more than 1 alcoholic drink a day.
• Reduce toxic exposure. There’s no denying that we live in a toxic environment but we can do our part in reducing exposure to toxic by limiting the use of pesticides, industrial chemicals, etc.
• Genetic testing: Genetic testing can be done to look for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
Breastcancer.org, Susan G. Komen, National Cancer Institute