Breast cancer prevention is important for women to learn about, especially since breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women. The American Cancer Society’s web site reports that over two-hundred thousand women were diagnosed with this disease in 2006 and there are over two million women in the United States who have received treatment for breast cancer. With numbers this staggering, preventing cancer should be a priority for all women.
Thanks to all the new treatments available to women, death rates from breast cancer have declined in the last several years. When deciding how to go about lowering your chances of developing breast cancer, you should consider your risk factors. A risk factor is something that can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
Some risk factors can be controlled but others are considered irrepressible. Uncontrollable risk factors are age, gender, family history, genetic make-up, race and even personal medical history. Lifestyle risks usually fall in the “controllable” category.
These are things such as not exercising enough, being overweight, eating a diet high in fat, using birth control and smoking. It is important to take a look at your own lifestyle and family history to determine if you are susceptible to any of these risk factors.
There are certain medications available to women who fall under high risk factors for breast cancer. The drug Tamoxifen has been used in the United States for over twenty-five years to help in the fight for breast cancer prevention. The drug is taken once daily as a pill and interferes with the female hormone estrogen, preventing it from attaching itself to cells in the breast tissue.
This medication can also be used to treat women already diagnosed with breast cancer because it can slow down or cease the growth of cancerous cells. Tamoxifen has even been associated with helping prevent a recurrence in women who previously suffered from breast cancer.
A more common way to prevent breast cancer is through mammograms. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and is the most common form of prevention. Women who are over forty years of age should get mammograms on a yearly basis.
For women in their twenty’s and thirty’s, the American Cancer Society’s web site recommends getting clinical breast exams at least every three years from a medical professional. This test is performed using the tips of the fingers to check the entire breast area and under the arm.
In addition to mammograms and clinical breast exams, women should also perform breast self exams each month to recognize any signs of lumps or abnormalities in the tissue.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is able to help women who fall within the lower poverty levels, are uninsured or underserved gain access to screenings for breast cancer. This program is called the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
The CDC’s web site touts it has served more than two million women under this program since its inception in 1991. In 2000, Congress expanded this service by opening it up to women who are on Medicaid. This breast cancer control act, formally titled the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, is a way to help women, who may have little access to quality health care, have a chance at breast and cervical cancer prevention.
Breast cancer prevention can be a simple way to help you live a healthier life. Although not all risk factors are controllable, there are ways to help you recognize the warning signs of cancer. Be smart and know your body so you can live cancer free.