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What You Must Know About Breast Cancer

Lifestyle Changes

Certain changes in your lifestyle can help prevent the onset of breast cancer. If you drink alcoholic beverages, your risk of breast cancer is increased; limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage per day. Being overweight also increases your breast cancer risk. This is especially true, if you gained this weight following menopause. Try to incorporate some strength training and aerobic exercise, doing so will help control your weight while improving your immunity.

Studies indicate, that breast-feeding your baby and discontinuing therapy with hormones, may offer some breast cancer protection.

The good news is four out of five biopsied breast lumps are ruled noncancerous. However, following up with your physician is vital. This is not something you should disregard just because your chances are good.

No Increased Risk for Those with Fibrocystic Breasts

Fibrocystic breasts are common and refer to breasts with thick tissue and lumps varying in size. This condition affects both of your breasts and causes breast discomfort or pain to occur close to the onset of menstruation each month.

Over half of all women have fibrocystic breasts sometime during their lives. There has been no link between fibrocystic breasts and an increased risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer and Birth Control Pills

Previously, contraceptives had higher doses of estrogen, which slightly increased the risk of breast cancer. That said there is no evidence that the oral contraceptives available today increase your risk for breast cancer.
Monthly Self-Exam, Necessary or Not

Self-Exams

Women have continued doing self-exams every month, for years now. Although some physicians and organizations continue encouraging this practice, according to research done by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), existing evidence is inadequate to gauge the positives and negatives, as related to the monthly self-exams. Because of this, the USPSTF recommends continuing to encourage women to do self-exams on a monthly basis at home cease.

Mammogram Screenings

Mammography remains to be the best tool available to spot breast cancer during its early stages. The majority of women with breast cancer have no identified risk factors or family history of the disease.

The guidelines of the American Cancer Society call for women 40+ to have mammogram screenings every year. Whereas, a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report from 2009, suggests that women begin having their mammograms at the age of 50. They also recommend the mammograms be performed every other year. If you do not know what you should do, talk with your physician and make your mammogram plan together.

The Early Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer starts in a cell. That cell divides and then multiplies at an uncontrolled rate. This small clump of cancer cells cannot be felt yet. Breast cancer in its early stages, will usually be symptom free. A mammogram can actually detect the cancer prior to it being felt, which is why mammogram screenings are crucial. Some benign breast conditions may seem like cancer; that is why it is good to know what the difference is. Have a health care professional check any worrisome lumps for you.

Other Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The classic symptom is a lump in the armpit or breast. If you decide to continue doing breast self-exams, here are some things to watch for:

  • A lump or swelling in your breast
  • Swelling in your armpit
  • Pain in your nipple
  • Nipple discharge (bloody or clear)
  • Pitted or scaly skin on your nipple
  • Retracted or inverted nipple
  • Unusual breast discomfort or pain
  • Persistent breast tenderness

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help Immediately

Should you have any of the symptoms listed above, do not hesitate to visit your physician. Even with the breast self-exam, a mammogram plan, based on your age, should be put in place by your physician. If you choose not to do your monthly breast self-exam, be sure you get your mammogram done, as is, recommended by your physician.

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