Find Out Your Family History
Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so its important for women to know their family history. You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer or if you have multiplefamily members who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.
Can I Lower My Risk Of Breast Cancer
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk. Many risk factors are beyond your control, such as being born female and getting older. But other risk factors can be changed and may lower your risk.
For women who are known to be at increased risk for breast cancer, there are additional steps that might reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Breast
The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can make milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts.
Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless, watery fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels carry lymph between lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fightinfection and disease. Groups of lymph nodes are found near the breast in theaxilla , above thecollarbone, and in the chest.
See the following PDQ summaries for more information about breast cancer:
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Breast Cancer Prevention Patient Version
On This Page
Cancerprevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will reduce the burden of cancer and lower the number of deaths caused by cancer.
Cancer is not a single disease but a group of related diseases. Our genes, lifestyle, and the environment around us work together to increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer. Each persons cancer risk is made up of a combination of these factors.
Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor.
Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. Forexample, both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for sometypes of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it doesnot mean that you will not get cancer.
Different ways to prevent cancer are being studied, including:
- Changing lifestyle or eating habits.
- Avoiding things known to cause cancer.
- Taking medicine to treat a precancerouscondition or to keep cancer from starting.
Getting Screened And Advances In Treatment
Women at average risk should start talking to their doctors about breast cancer screening, likely with a mammogram, at age 40. Some women choose to wait until 45 or later to get screened, but 40 is the age to at least start the conversation, Dr. Troester says.
Each woman has a different risk profile, though for women at higher risk of breast cancer, for example because of family history, mammograms should begin earlier, probably in the 30s. Again, a conversation with your doctor is key.
Early detection is so important, Dr. Troester says. We see a lot of success with treating breast cancer that is detected early.
In fact, the five-year survival rate for women with stage 0 and stage 1 breast cancer is close to 100 percent for stage 2, its about 93 percent. Women with stage 3 and even stage 4 cancers also have many treatment options, but early detection offers the best chance of remission.
Those survival rates might be increasing, too, because of new research.
Right now, we have several clinical trials taking place at UNC that are
advancing the science around breast cancer risk and progression, Dr. Troester says. We have a large team working together to identify and study the different types of breast cancers. This is exciting because it will help doctors figure out the best prevention strategies and best treatments to obtain the optimal outcomes for each specific type of breast cancer.
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Avoid Drinking Too Much
“Drinking in moderation”that is, up to three or four drinks per week”is probably reasonable and safe,” Dr. Port says. But drinking every day should be avoided, she adds.
A 2016 study in the International Journal of Cancer found survivors who downed more than one drink per day were 28% more likely to suffer a recurrence.
This is your body on alcohol:
Medicines To Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Prescription medicines can be used to help lower breast cancer risk in certain women at increased risk of breast cancer.
Medicines such as tamoxifen and raloxifene block the action of estrogen in breast tissue. Tamoxifen might be an option even if you havent gone through menopause, while raloxifene is only used for women who have gone through menopause. Other drugs, called aromatase inhibitors, might also be an option for women past menopause. All of these medicines can also have side effects, so its important to understand the possible benefits and risks of taking one of them.
To learn more, see:
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Breast Cancer Is The Second Most Common Type Of Cancer In American Women
Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except skin cancer. Breast cancer is second to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in American women. Deaths from breast cancer have decreased slightly each year between 2013 and 2017. Breast cancer also occurs in men, but the number of new cases is small.
Easy Things You Can Do Daily To Prevent Breast Cancer
One health issue that affects millions of women is breast cancer. Most women know about what this diagnosis can bring with it, but have you ever read about how to prevent it in the first place? Even if modern science hasnt discovered precisely how each cancer begins to form, you can still take a few preventative measures to potentially avoid ever getting that heart-dropping news.
Not sure how to prevent breast cancer? There are more ways to do this than you might realize, and many of them are simple things you can do every day. Dont let yourself wait until its too late! Here are a few breast cancer prevention tips that can help you out in many additional ways, too.
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How High Does My Risk Need To Be
There is no single definition of a higher than average risk of breast cancer. But most major studies have used a 1.7% risk of developing breast cancer over the next 5 years as their cut-off point.
Some medical organizations recommend that doctors discuss the use of medicines to lower breast cancer risk in women at least 35 years old who have a 5-year risk of 1.7% or higher. Others might use different cutoff points.
The American Cancer Society does not have recommendations for the use of medicines to help lower the risk of breast cancer.
What Else Can I Do
Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.
At OC Sports and Wellness, we help our patients using the principles of integrative medicine to achieve the best possible health outcomes through in-depth health assessments, testing, and lifestyle changes. Take the first step on your journey to health and prevention. Visit our or give us a call to learn more at 949-460-9111.
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Medicines For Women At Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that medicines be offered to some high risk women to reduce the risk of breast cancer. These are:
- tamoxifen for 5 years if you are pre menopausal
- anastrozole for 5 years if you are post menopausal
- raloxifene or tamoxifen for 5 years if you are post menopausal and you cannot take anastrozole
Your specialist doctor might also talk to you about these medicines if you have a moderate risk of breast cancer. All these drugs have side effects and are not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor who can tell you whether these are suitable for you.
You do not need to take this medication if you have had surgery to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Excessive weight is connected with many diseases and health issues, and breast cancer is one of them. This is particularly true for weight gain after the age of 40, when the body experiences big hormonal changes and metabolism slows down drastically. Ladies who have maintained a relatively healthy weight throughout their lives are generally ranked lower on the risk scale.
Being mindful of your diet helps control the amount of estrogen in your body, especially in your 40s and beyond when estrogen progressively transforms into fat and raises the risk of breast cancer.
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Next Steps For The Science
The big question, as always, is âWill it work in humans?â
âOftentimes, you have something that looks beautiful in a mouse, but when you try it in a human, it never works the same,â Ghajar said. âBut we really tried hard to mitigate that by the models we used.â
Ghajar said his next step will be to make human versions of the molecule he used for integrin inhibition and then test them to make sure theyâre safe in people. Once thatâs established, the research can move toward a clinical trial that tests the new combo therapy on cancer patients.
Although cautious about getting ahead of the science , Ghajar does believe his research demonstrates that dormant cells can be killed by chemo without waking them up, which is significant in and of itself.
âNo matter what happens with regard to the specific molecules weâve discovered, that concept is going to endure,â he said.
Could this potentially help patients currently living with metastatic breast cancer? Ghajar said itâs too early to draw any conclusions about that.
âWeâre trying to find a way that we can augment therapy up front to kill the roots of metastasis before they arise,â he said. âWould this possibly be a way to eliminate the cells that are going to seed the second met or the third met or the fourth? Thereâs potential, but itâs not something we trialed experimentally.â
The 10 Commandments Of Cancer Prevention
About one of every three Americans will develop some form of malignancy during his or her lifetime. Despite these grim statistics, doctors have made great progress in understanding the biology of cancer cells, and they have already been able to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
But instead of just waiting for new breakthroughs, you can do a lot to protect yourself right now. Screening tests can help detect malignancies in their earliest stages, but you should always be alert for symptoms of the disease. The American Cancer Society developed this simple reminder years ago:
- C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
- A: A sore that does not heal
- U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
- T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
- I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
- O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
- N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
It’s a rough guide at best. The vast majority of such symptoms are caused by nonmalignant disorders, and cancers can produce symptoms that don’t show up on the list, such as unexplained weight loss or fatigue. But it is a useful reminder to listen to your body and report sounds of distress to your doctor.
2. Eat properly. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which may increase the risk of colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
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Are There Reasons Not To Take One Of These Drugs To Help Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
All drugs have risks and side effects that must be discussed when making the decision about chemoprevention.
Most experts agree that tamoxifen and raloxifene should not be used to reduce breast cancer risk in women who:
- Have a higher risk of serious blood clots*
- Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
- Are taking estrogen
- Are taking an aromatase inhibitor
- Are younger than 35 years old
*Women who have a higher risk of serious blood clots include those who have ever had serious blood clots . Many doctors also feel that if youve had a stroke or heart attack, or if you smoke, are obese, or have high blood pressure or diabetes, you also have a higher risk of serious blood clots. Women with any of these conditions should talk to their doctors to see if the benefits of taking one of these drugs would outweigh the risks.
A woman who has been diagnosed with any type of uterine cancer or atypical hyperplasia of the uterus should not take tamoxifen to help lower breast cancer risk.
Raloxifene has not been tested in pre-menopausal women, so it should only be used if you have gone through menopause.
Aromatase inhibitors are not useful for pre-menopausal women, so they should only be used if you have gone through menopause. These drugs can cause bone thinning , so theyre not likely to be a good option in women who already have thin or weakened bones.
Talk with your doctor about your total health picture to make the best possible choice for you.
Do Self Breast Checks
Nobody knows your breasts better than you do. Doing regular breast self-exams serves as a quick and efficient method, and the best thing about it is that you can do it yourself in the comfort of your home. There are a few simple exercises and a few steps to follow, and none are time consuming.
After all, just like with seasonal flu or sore muscles, the first person to notice any change or anomaly is going to be you.
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Lifestyle Changes After Breast Cancer
Lifestyle Changes after Breast Cancer Treatment: Conversations on Survival. A group of breast cancer survivors openly discuss what lifestyle changes were continued or changed after treatment. The importance of living in the moment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and knowing what is really important in life are all discussed.
To help yourself better cope with the side effects of breast cancer treatment and to reduce your chances of breast cancer recurrence, try incorporating these healthy tips:
1) Take care of yourself emotionally
- Put your needs first sometimes
- Attend a support group or find a breast cancer survivor you can talk with
- Stay informed about new breast cancer research
- Consider psychotherapy and/or antidepressants if warranted if youre taking tamoxifen, check with your oncologist to ensure the prescribed antidepressant does not interfere with your endocrine treatment
- Communicate with your doctor about fears or concerns
- Volunteer or become a breast cancer advocate
2) Take care of yourself physically
- Exercise regularly
- Report any physical changes to either your oncologist or primary care provider
- Seek treatment for lymphedema if you experience signs
3) Eat healthy
Research has shown that a diet high in fat and calories increases circulating estrogen in the blood. Consuming a low fat and low calorie diet after breast cancer can improve your overall health and wellness. Here are some dietary suggestions:
4) Reduce stress
5) Limit alcohol
6) Exercise regularly
Get All The Facts About In Vitro
While the jury is still out on whether or not in vitro fertilization directly increases rick of breast cancer, some studies show that it does, including a 2016 one published in the Journal of American Medical Association. In vitro fertilization, the researchers report, affects your hormone levelsso be sure to speak with your doctor about any concerns you have before the procedure is performed.
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Connect With Your Emotions
Just like stress can cause your health to falter, so can your emotions if you dont learn how to control them. Your hormone levels produce your feelings, and for women, these levels fluctuate on a daily basis.
Learn how to channel your emotions through meditation or journaling to potentially avoid getting cancer thats related to emotional trauma to your body. You might even find a new hobby you enjoy.
It Is Not Clear Whether The Following Affect The Risk Of Breast Cancer:
Hormonal contraceptives contain estrogen or estrogen and progestin. Some studies have shown that women who are current or recent users of hormonal contraceptives may have a slight increase in breast cancer risk. Other studies have not shown an increased risk of breast cancer in women using hormonal contraceptives.
In one study, the risk of breast cancer slightly increased the longer a woman used hormonal contraceptives. Another study showed that the slight increase in breast cancer risk decreased over time when women stopped using hormonal contraceptives.
More studies are needed to know whether hormonal contraceptives affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Chemicals in the environment
Scientists are studying whether exposure to chemicals in the environment may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Studies of this kind can be difficult to conduct and interpret for many reasons:
These reasons make it hard to know which chemicals, if any, may increase the risk of breast cancer. More studies are needed to know whether chemicals in the environment affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer. For more information, see Environmental Carcinogens and Cancer Risk.
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