What You Should Know About Breast Cancer Prevention
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide. As such, it should go without saying that breast cancer is serious business. However, most women are not doing everything that they can to prevent breast cancer and to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease. Learn some of the important facts about breast cancer prevention. Then, you can be sure you are doing your best to protect yourself from breast cancer and/or to get any issues detected early when they are most treatable.
Learn Your Family History
One of the biggest risk factors of developing breast cancer is having a history of the disease in your family. Talk to both of your parents about their health histories and the health histories of members of their families (including your grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even great-grandparents).
If there is a family history of breast cancer on either side of your family, let your doctor know right away. This is even more important if there was more than one incidence of breast cancer in the family, as such a pattern could strongly indicate a genetic component to the disease.
Get Genetic Testing If You Do Have a Family History
There are certain genetic markers that make a person much more susceptible to developing cancer in their breasts. If you know you have a family history of the disease (even if it is only one case), you may want to get yourself tested for these genetic markers.
The genetic markers tested for are BRCA1 and BRCA2. The testing process is quick and easy for you. All you need to do is have some blood drawn. Having mutations to either of these genes can greatly increase your risks of both breast and ovarian cancers.
If you have these mutations, there are various options available. You can have more frequent cancer screenings (mammograms and pelvic exams). You could also opt to have preventive surgery, which would mean a double mastectomy and/or an oophorectomy (possibly with a hysterectomy).
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
Both smoking and alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing cancer. Smoking should be avoided entirely if possible, and if you are a smoker, it would greatly increase your odds of avoiding a cancer diagnosis if you quit.
When it comes to alcohol consumption, it is not required that you avoid it entirely. However, you should limit consumption to less than three drinks a week. At three or more drinks per week, the risk of developing breast cancer increases by 15 percent, and each drink beyond three can increase the risk by another 10 percent.
Do Not Skip Your Screenings
Breast cancer screenings are the best way to prevent and detect breast cancer. Do not skip out on these screenings. Mammograms are recommended every year from 45 up to the age of 55, according to the American Cancer Society. After 55, mammograms can be switched to every 2 years if there are no additional risk factors, though some women prefer to continue with annual screenings.
You can also "screen" yourself at home by performing monthly breast exams to look for any lumps or abnormalities in the breast tissue. If you do notice anything strange or out of the ordinary, contact your doctor immediately to have a medical breast exam and screening.
Now that you know some of the ways that you can prevent breast cancer, you can be sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself. And if you do end up with breast cancer, you will be able to get early treatment to help you through the situation.
For more information about cancer prevention and treatment, contact a doctor or visit sites like http://swoncology.net/.