October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Breast Cancer: Basics of Prevention and Detection

Breast Cancer: Basics of Prevention and Detection

In America, 1 in 8 women get breast cancer and 40,000 women die from it annually. While many risk factors are beyond anyone’s control, certain healthy lifestyle choices lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Early detection and intervention is usually the most important factor for successful treatment.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • Being female
  • Being 55 or older (two-thirds of women affected are in this age group)
  • A previous occurrence of breast cancer, some other types of cancer, or a benign breast disease
  • A family history of breast cancer (especially affecting close relatives)
  • Mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene
  • Being overweight
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Having a daily average of 3 or more alcoholic drinks
  • Dense tissue in the breast
  • Prolonged or high estrogen exposure
  • Prolonged or high radiation exposure
  • Early-onset menstruation or late-onset menopause

How to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

  • Exercise for at least 30-45 minutes most days of the week
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Give birth before the age of 30
  • Breastfeed
  • Quit smoking—or never start
  • Drink little to no alcohol
  • Find alternatives to hormone replacement therapy if possible
  • Avoid radiation-based imaging tests as much as possible

Encouraging Early Detection of Breast Cancer

  • Familiarize yourself with the way your breasts and breast skin look and feel, and have any changes examined by your doctor
  • Some—but not all—experts recommend asking your doctor to teach you to perform breast self-exams
  • Review your risk factors with your doctor and discuss how frequently you should get mammograms (once every year to two years is typical)

Cancer Resource Directory

If you or a loved one has cancer, visit our resource directory for help accessing treatment, care, or survivorship support.

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NWFCCC works to reduce the burden of cancer on area residents by increasing access to cancer information and services, by developing and implementing cancer control projects for the public and healthcare professionals, and by promoting awareness of prevention and early detection practices.

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