Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
The cancer of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less than 1 in 8. the chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment. Right now there are more than 2 1/2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
In recent year, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
The following steps can help you stay well and improve your odds against breast cancer.
– The earlier breast cancer is found, the better. Sign up for a breast cancer screening reminder. If you are 40 or older, get a mammogram and breast exam every year and report any breast changes to your doctor right away.
– You can help reduce your breast cancer risk by maintaining a healthy weight throughout life, being physically active on a regular basis (at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week) and limiting alcohol intake to less than 1 drink each day for women (2 drinks for men).
Breast Cancer FAQs
• How often should I go to my doctor for a check-up?
You should have a physical every year which should include a clinical breast exam and pelvic exam. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your scheduled visit, do not hesitate to see the doctor immediately
• What kind of impact does stress have on breast cancer?
In 2012, some research studies have shown that factors such as traumatic events and losses can alter immune system functions, and when immune functions are altered cancer cells may have an opportunity to get themselves established within one’s body. What has been shown is that it is not the fact that a major life crisis has occurred but instead how the individual reacted to this event and coped (or didn’t cope). Therefore, identifying ways to keep your stress level in check is wise.
• Can physical activity reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Exercise boosts the immune system and helps you to keep your weight in check. With as little as three hours of exercise per week, or about 30 minutes a day, a woman can begin to lower her risk of breast cancer. This doesn’t require going to a gym either. Power walking is more than sufficient.
• Can a healthy diet help to prevent breast cancer?
A nutritious, low-fat diet (30 grams or less) with plenty of fruits and green and orange vegetables can help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. A high-fat diet increases the risk because fat triggers estrogen production that can fuel tumor growth.
• Is there a link between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer?
Yes, there is. HRT was added to the carcinogenic list by the American Cancer Society in the early 2000s. It is recommended that women with known risks not be placed on HRT to control of menopausal symptoms. They should instead seek other safer alternatives.
• How does menstrual and reproductive history affect breast cancer risks?
Women who began their menstrual cycles before age 12, have no biological children, or had their first child at 30 or older, or began menopause after 55 are at a higher risk. This means that research has proven that the number of menstrual cycles a woman has over time influences risk.
• Does a family history of breast cancer put someone at a higher risk?
Although women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.
• How often should I do a breast self exam (BSE)?
Give yourself a breast self-exam once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, feeling a palpable lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, inversion of the nipple, redness or scaliness of the breast skin, redness or scaliness of the nipple/areola area, or discharge of secretions from the nipple.
Select the same day of the month (first of the month for example) and mark it on the calendar as a reminder when to perform this self exam. What to look for is a change from last month’s exam to this month’s exam.