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Your age, lifestyle and family play role in prevention
Provided by Northside Hospital Cancer Institute
There is no magic formula that predicts who will be diagnosed with breast cancer and no one is absolutely not at risk for breast cancer.
Breast cancer is typically most treatable when it is detected at earlier stages, so breast screening is a very important part of a woman’s health care plan.
Most people don’t realize that about 80 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a relative who had the disease.
That is why it’s so important to get yearly check-ups and mammograms for anyone over the age of 40.
Two easy ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer
Because breast cancer has been associated with obesity, watching your diet and exercising are great lifestyle changes anyone can make (and they have benefits for other aspects of women’s health as well!)
If a woman does have a family history of breast cancer, her risk may be increased so she has several options to learn more.
Genetic counseling and testing can help women understand how their family history impacts their odds of developing breast cancer and learn about options for increased screening or even surgery to reduce their risk.
A simple blood or saliva test can determine if a person carries a mutation in a gene that increases the chance of developing breast, or other cancers.
The most well-known examples are the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes; however additional breast cancer genes have been discovered as well.
A harmful genetic mutation can be inherited from a mother or father. Each child of a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes has a 50 percent chance (or 1 in 2) of also inheriting the mutation.
Therefore, genetic testing is not just information for one person, but a whole family.
Anyone considering testing should first speak with their doctor who can refer them to a genetic counselor, so all of the implications of testing can be discussed.
Age is an important risk factor
The time for average risk women to begin having yearly mammograms is age 40, but some doctors recommend beginning earlier depending on certain factors, like family history.
Although mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, statistics show that by screening for breast cancers and detecting them at the earliest possible point, they can lower the risk of a woman dying of breast cancer by 35 percent in women over the age of 50.
For more information about mammograms, genetic counseling or your risks for breast cancer, visit northside.com/cancerinstitute or call 404-531-4444.
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