Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention
Reprinted from the MayoClinic.com
Breast cancer prevention for women with an average risk
Making changes in your daily life may help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Try to:
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to less than one drink a day, if you choose to drink.
- Exercise most days of the week. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. If you haven’t been active lately, ask your doctor whether it’s OK and start slowly.
- Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy. Some women experience bothersome signs and symptoms during menopause and, for these women, the increased risk of breast cancer may be acceptable in order to relieve menopause signs and symptoms. To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible for the shortest amount of time.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to accomplish this. Reduce the number of calories you eat each day and slowly increase the amount of exercise.
Breast cancer prevention for women with a high risk
If your doctor has assessed your family history and other factors and determined that you may have an increased risk of breast cancer, options to reduce your risk include:
- Preventive medications (chemoprevention). Estrogen-blocking medications help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Options include tamoxifen and raloxifene (Evista). These medications carry a risk of side effects, such as an increased risk of blood clots. Tamoxifen, but not raloxifene, is associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer. So, it is important to talk to your doctors about your individual medical history to determine which medications are right for you.
- Preventive surgery. Women with a very high risk of breast cancer may choose to have their healthy breasts surgically removed (prophylactic mastectomy). They may also choose to have their healthy ovaries removed (prophylactic oophorectomy) to reduce the risk of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Catch cancer early
Although you can’t prevent the development of breast cancer with screening or breast self-exams, these techniques may help you and your doctor find breast cancer in its earliest and more-treatable stages.
- Ask your doctor about breast cancer screening. Ask your doctor at what age you should begin breast cancer screening exams and tests, such as clinical breast exams and mammograms. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of screening. Together you can decide what breast cancer screening strategies are right for you.
- Become familiar with your breasts through breast self-exams. Ask your doctor to show you how to do a breast self-exam to check for any lumps or other unusual signs in your breasts. A breast self-exam can’t prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.
Employees over the age of 40 covered by Harbin Clinic insurance receive an annual screening mammogram at no cost when an in-network provider is used. Employees between the ages of 35-39 receive one screening mammogram prior to turning 40 when an in-network provider is used. To schedule a mammogram, contact The Breast Center at Floyd at (706) 509-6840 or The Women’s Center at Redmond Regional Medical Center at (706) 802-3890.