If there was something you could do to reduce your risk of breast cancer, would you?
While there are some breast cancer risk factors that none of us can help, there are certainly a number of factors that are modifiable.
Instead of writing a long list, I’ll paraphrase. Here are a few suggestions:
Avoid or minimize known risk factors. If possible, avoid hormone replacement therapy at menopause. If you have plans to have children, consider whether it would be feasible to have them a bit earlier and breastfeed. Pay more attention to diet and exercise to prevent weight gain, particularly after the age of 40. Try to minimize alcohol and avoid smoking. These are just a few examples.
Pay attention to your family history and ask questions. In my culture, like for many others, people do not say much about their medical history. As far as breast cancer risk is concerned though, it is useful to probe and to ask questions. Remember that risk is related to the number of affected first-degree relatives. Also, family history of cancers might suggest a possible cancer-predisposing genetic mutation (look out for more on this).
Get genetic testing if that applies to you. Some people may be candidates for genetic testing. I will address this topic later this month. If you may be in that category, talk to your doctor about testing.
If you fall in the highest risk category, discuss other options. This may include surgically removing breasts, or taking a medication for 5 years. If one does not want those, they may opt to watch more closely, in case breast cancer does develop. Breast MRIs can be done, in addition to mammograms.
Please note that the medical information I share is meant to be a general guide, not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. My writing is not meant to serve as a ‘second or third or other opinion.’ Any communication or writing here is not intended to establish a physician-patient relationship. The exact approach in treating a medical condition, including cancer, in any particular individual, depends on many variables so please be sure to discuss your thoughts and questions with your physician.
Perhaps you have some more thoughts? I’d love to hear from you. Either leave a comment below, or send me a message. Stay tuned for more breast cancer related posts this month.