This October, CBHN challenges you to become breast health aware!
Breast health awareness begins with a sense of knowing what is normal for you and your breasts. Being proactive about all aspects of your health can help you live a long, healthy life!
What is Breast Health?
While there’s no sure-fire way to prevent breast cancer from occurring, there are things you can do to minimize your risks. You can take action by doing these four things:
1. Know Your Risk
Both men and women are diagnosed with breast cancer and can be at risk of breast cancer, and some at a higher risk than others. Simply being a woman and getting older are the two most common risk factors. Your risk depends on your own individual make up and genetics that can determine risk factors. Understanding your risk factors, like your family history is important. So, have a conversation with your family to learn about your health history, and then with your doctors. Being proactive about your breast health and being breast self-aware is key!
You can use the Know Your Risk Tool to help you determine how to manage your breast health.
2. Get Your Annual Mammogram
A mammogram is a screening tool that can detect a problem early, which is critically important in the case of a breast cancer diagnosis. It is a test designed to show signs of the disease before any symptoms may occur. 3-D mammography is now available and is more effective in detecting and locating breast cancer. For mammography, it is important for all women to follow the recommended breast cancer screenings guidelines:
– Women ages 40 to 44 should start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
– Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
– Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
If you are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors you should get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30, and continue for as long as you are in good health. It is recommended that if you are at high risk, you should start managing your breast health with your healthcare providers to discuss your personal circumstances and develop a plan.
3. Know What is Normal for You
The signs and symptoms of breast cancer are not the same for everyone, therefore it is important that you know how your breasts and underarm area normally look and feel. If you notice or feel any changes in your breast, you should report that to your healthcare provider immediately. DO NOT WAIT until the symptoms are fully developed or advanced. You’re never too young to start managing your breast health. Be your own breast health advocate!
4. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
There are controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for breast cancer. You cannot control factors such as being a woman, getting older, and your family history. However, what you can control are decisions related to your breast health such as making healthy lifestyle choices that may help lower risk of breast cancer. These are things such as maintaining a healthy weight, adding exercise to your daily routine, limiting your alcohol intake, and the use of menopausal hormones. Get tips for making healthy lifestyle choices here.