Breast Cancer Awareness: Your Guide to Detection and Prevention

Have you done a self-exam lately? When was your last mammogram?

According to breastcancer.org, about 1 in 8 women in the U.S. (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer. The same organization reported that about 40,450 women in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer this year.

Fortunately, catching breast cancer early still saves lives—according to a recent study led by Sepideh Saadatmand of the Erasmus University Medical Center. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to review your breast health and cancer prevention plan.

Tips for Detection: Mammograms and Self-Exams

According to breastcancer.org, if you’re over age 40 or at a high risk for breast cancer, you should have an annual mammogram and a physical exam by a healthcare provider. A mammogram can identify breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop.

When it comes to breast cancer, early detection leads to better patient outcomes. In fact, the American Cancer Society reveals that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer detected early, less likely to require aggressive treatment and more likely to be cured. Since mammograms may miss some cancers, additional tests may be needed if an area of concern is identified by a mammogram.

Like mammograms, self-exams can help you find breast cancer earlier and increase your chances of survival. The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends that adult women perform monthly self-exams in a variety of positions to check for lumps, changes in the contour, dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples. Alert your physician of any changes you notice.

Keep in mind that the younger you do the self-exam, the higher the false positive result rate. Unfortunately, a lump may cause a lot of anxiety and turn out to be nothing. Your healthcare provider can help you develop a care plan that minimizes anxiety and maximizes your health.

Tips for Prevention: Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Several lifestyle choices may impact your risk of developing breast cancer. Here are some of the most common recommendations from today’s health experts:

  • Avoid smoking. Smoking increases your breast cancer risk, especially if you’re in premenopause.
  • Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Health experts recommend limiting yourself to less than one drink per day to minimize your risk.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs after menopause when fat tissue produces the majority of a woman’s estrogen—instead of the ovaries. Estrogen can stimulate cell overgrowth and breast cancer.
  • Stay physically active. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer. Each week, most adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Also, it’s beneficial to do strength training at least twice a week.
  • Choose a balanced, nutritious diet. Eat an abundance of fruits and veggies each day and limit processed and red meats. Harvard researchers found that women with high levels of carotenoids, which are found in leafy greens, carrots and red peppers, had a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Consuming phytonutrients including sulforaphane (found in cruciferous vegetables) and lycopene may also protect against breast cancer.

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To learn more about breast cancer detection and prevention, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

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