UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Luckily, it can be successfully treated, and there are preventative measures you can be taking.
Know Your Risk
Talk to your family to learn about your family health history. A family history of breast cancer may mean an increased risk for you because of genetic or environmental factors that are specific to your family. Increased risk in families could be due to either genetics or exposure to a similar environmental toxin. It is important to know your risk so that you can be proactive about prevention.
Early detection is crucial for successful treatment of breast cancer. You should ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you. It is recommended that most women get a mammogram every year beginning at age 40. If you have an increased risk for breast cancer you should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20 and then at age 40 you should begin getting breast exams every year.
Know What’s Normal and What Isn’t
On top of yearly exams with a doctor, you should be doing regular self-breast examinations to learn what is normal for you. See your health care provider if you notice any of the following breast changes:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
There are two important aspects of breast cancer prevention. Early detection is the first and risk reduction is the second. Screening may identify early cancers and allow treatment before they become invasive or identify invasive cancers at an early treatable stage. But screening does not necessarily prevent cancer. The best breast cancer prevention is to know your risks and to work on reducing them. For the average woman, this requires a few relatively simple lifestyle modifications. Eating a low-fat diet may help prevent breast cancer. Exercise, especially in younger women, may decrease hormones levels and contribute to a decreased risk. You should also limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking for further risk reduction. The above advice could help save your life.
Fighting breast cancer can be difficult enough without fighting for term life insurance. Don’t let breast cancer keep you from protecting your loved ones. Check out our article How To Get Term Life Insurance If You Have Breast Cancer for more information.