How to Prevent Breast Cancer
Breast cancer prevention is being studied by several groups. At this time there is no proven breast cancer prevention protocol such as eating a specific diet or taking certain vitamins. However, there are some steps that can be taken to decrease the risk of developing cancer.
Personal habits such as avoiding alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active reduce the risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer is associated with high-fat diets so a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in fatty meat or full-fat dairy, is a proactive way to improve overall health. The use of hormones to relieve menopausal symptoms is linked to breast cancer. Avoiding these hormones or using them as little as possible is recommended particularly after the findings of the Women’s Health Initiative found that hormone use increased the incidence of cancer.
Anti-hormone therapy is a tool now used to prevent recurring cancer, or the development of another primary cancer. The majority of breast cancers have estrogen receptors which respond to anti-hormone drugs such as Tamoxifen. These drugs block hormones which are known to assist cancer cells to grow or develop. Find more information about anti-hormone therapy here.
A more recent approach for women with a very high risk of developing cancer is a preventive mastectomy or double mastectomy. Carriers of the BRCA gene mutation have as high as an 80% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Women with a high incidence of breast cancer in their immediate family also are considering this option. With the advances that have been made in the field of breast reconstruction, the statistics are slightly up in terms of women who choose mastectomy over a lumpectomy. Many women opt to prevent cancer by removing the potential site of that cancer.
Watch as Dr. Leslie Memsic explains the risk factors for breast cancer and what every woman can do to help reduce those risk factors.
Breast Cancer Prevention Tips
Click on the below items to find out what can help you to lower your risks of developing breast cancer.
Identified Risk Factors
PROFESSIONAL SCREENINGBreast exams by your physician or nurse practitioner on a yearly basis are important in addition to your self-exams in identifying abnormalities early.
IMAGING studies, such as a screening mammogram, complement breast exams done by yourself and your health professionals. Recent studies reported in the public press have been confusing, but current recommendations by the medical community include annual mammograms (digital if possible as they show things more clearly) at age 40.
ULTRASOUND is indicated if masses are identified on physical exam or mammogram and possibly in patients with high risk or dense breasts.
MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI) is probably our most accurate breast test but it is not used for screening in the average patient because it is not necessary and may lead to unnecessary breast biopsies.
However, in women at higher risk such as those with a personal or strong family history of breast cancer, carriers of BRCA gene mutation, or those women with extremely dense or cystic breasts, MRI may be indicated.
Certainly if mammogram and breast ultrasound are inconclusive with regards to a breast abnormality, MRI may be useful.