How can I manage my risk for breast cancer? A breakdown of 3 major ways

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It’s not a comforting statistic: About 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

That makes breast cancer the most common cancer among women, the site goes on to say.

But there’s good news: Advances in screening methods, diagnoses and treatments have led to an increase in survival rates. In fact, 90% of all breast cancer cases are now treatable, the American Cancer Society says.

Still, you have to manage your risk.

And that all comes down to having accurate, up-to-date information about your health, as Henry Ford Health System points out. You have to stay proactive and familiar with your body. You have to take your health into your own hands.

Managing your risk mostly comes down to these three factors:

1.) Routine breast screenings.

These are incredibly important when it comes to early detection and going on to have successful treatment.

Breast cancer screening includes mammography and other breast imaging exams.

Women are typically told to start having that discussion with their doctor, regarding annual mammograms, at age 40, if they’re at an average risk for breast cancer.

“Mammography is not perfect,” Henry Ford Health System points out on its website. “It is important to know that some cancers will be invisible on mammograms, and this is why general awareness of new lumps or changes in the breast (are so) important.”

2.) Genetic testing.

An estimated 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary, according to

Should you get tested to determine your risk? This website says you should consider genetic testing for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene if you or a family member have/had:

  • A history of cancer of the breast, ovary or fallopian tube
  • Breast cancer diagnosed before age 50
  • Multiple breast cancers in the family
  • Male breast cancer in the family
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity
  • Family history of prostate cancer or pancreatic cancer

Just something to think about. Talk to your family. Staying proactive in this regard especially might make all the difference.

3.) Living a healthy lifestyle.

Breast cancer can develop in anyone -- but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your general health.

Some things to think about: Are you at a healthy weight? How much alcohol do you consume? Do you exercise regularly? Have you ever breastfed a baby? (Some studies suggest nursing an infant might lower your risk).

Try to make the best choices you can, for your overall health and to combat your risk.

Finally, not all breast changes mean cancer. Performing regular self-exams (the experts recommend doing this monthly), is incredibly important -- but if you do find a lump or a change, don’t panic.

There are other common breast problems every woman should know about, too. Click or tap here to learn more.

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