Looking out for the health of your breasts may not be the first thing you think of when working toward a healthy lifestyle, but staying aware and informed can help you detect breast cancer early, which could save your life. Women of all ages, races, shapes, and sizes have some risk of breast cancer, but that risk can be reduced through regular screenings.
Understand Risk Factors
A family history of breast cancer, certain genetic characteristics, obesity, age, alcohol use, a sedentary lifestyle, and other factors can all lead to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Talk to your family, as well as your doctor, to determine if you might be at above-average risk.
Know Your Breasts
Most women understand that an irregular lump could be a sign of breast cancer, but other symptoms can be harder to spot. Changes in color, size, shape, or skin texture of the breast, as well as abnormal pain or discharge, should be brought to the attention of your doctor immediately. Understanding the look and feel of your healthy breasts can help you determine if a suspicious change occurs. Remember to perform monthly breast self-exams—early detection is the key to successful treatment.
Talk to your doctor about getting screened regularly for breast cancer. Your physician is likely to recommend clinical breast exams starting at age 20 and mammograms starting at age 40. If you are at a high risk, additional measures may be recommended.
A healthy lifestyle decreases your breast cancer risk. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper nutrition and exercise, and limiting alcohol intake can reduce your risk for most cancers. For breast cancer specifically, breastfeeding and limiting hormone use after menopause are good choices.
To learn more about reducing your risk, getting screened, or diagnosing and treating breast cancer, contact Dr. Marla W. Dudak, MD. Call (888) 418-6759 for more information or to make an appointment.