Neighbors, friends, coworkers. So many women you know may develop breast cancer—one in eight will over their lifetime. Yet, breast cancer is very treatable when spotted early. Let’s take action together with measures for detection and managing risk factors.
Preventive efforts and screening are key
Being proactive about breast health means prioritizing prevention and regular screening. Experts recommend four steps to help women keep their risks as low as possible:
1. Know your numbers
Some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This includes women aged 45 or older or those who:
- Have previously had breast or ovarian cancer
- Are daughters, sisters and/or mothers of women who have had breast cancer
- Have tested positive for a gene mutation that is associated with higher risk of breast cancer (i.e., BRCA1 or BRCA2)
2. Keep a healthy lifestyle
Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk for certain cancers and boost overall wellness:
- Aim for meals high in plants and whole grains (2/3) with less meat and dairy (1/3 or less)
- Exercise three to five hours per week
- Keep a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit highly processed foods
- If you smoke, make a plan to quit
3. Avoid carcinogens
A carcinogen is any chemical known to cause cancer. Check the labels on your food and hygiene products, and avoid these common carcinogens:
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) in vehicle exhaust fumes
- Secondhand smoke
- Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many hard plastic items
- Parabens and phthalates in cosmetics (considered hormone disruptors and still being studied for links to breast cancer)
4. Get screened
Found early, breast cancer can be more successfully treated. Breast exams, mammograms, new lab tests and imaging technology promote early cancer detection. Discuss screenings with your primary care provider (PCP).
Start annual mammograms if you choose
Get a mammogram every year
55 and older
Get a mammogram every two years or as recommended by your health care provider.
Continue screening as long as you are in good health. Some women—because of family history, genetic tendency or other factors—should also be screened. Talk with a health care provider about the best screening plan for you.
Talk with your primary doctor
Personalized breast health guidance is a great reason to have a close relationship with a primary care provider (PCP). Screening guidelines can change, and individual risks vary. Plus, early-stage breast cancer usually has no symptoms. A PCP knows your health history and can guide your breast cancer screenings and include additional tests or treatment, if needed.
Use this handy preventive care calendar to stay on track:
There’s hope after diagnosis
Even after a diagnosis, there is so much hope for women with breast cancer. When detected early, survival rates are extremely high with treatments improving every year.
Typical treatment plans are based on the type of breast cancer, the stage or any special situations. Your treatment plan will depend on other factors as well, including your overall health and personal preferences, as discussed with your PCP and cancer care team.