Good breast health starts with being informed. The more you know about breast cancer risk, the more you can do to promote good breast health. Here are seven breast health facts to help you make the best decisions for your health.
What are the chances?
Breast cancer is common. One out of every eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. With the average risk for breast cancer being just over 12%, there’s an almost 88% chance that a woman will never have breast cancer.
The two greatest risk factors
Being a woman and getting older are the two greatest risk factors for breast cancer. All women are at risk for developing breast cancer, and the older you get, the greater the risk for breast cancer. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
You can’t rely on family history
A family history of breast cancer increases your risk for breast cancer, but only 5-10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary. Also, you can still develop breast cancer even if no one in your family had breast cancer. Knowing your family history is important in understanding your personal risk for cancer, but you can’t rely solely on this information.
You can decrease your risk for breast cancer
While some breast cancer risk factors are beyond your control, you can do things to decrease your breast cancer risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and exercising or regular physical activity lower your cancer risk. Learn other ways to improve breast health and lower your risk for breast cancer.
Look for changes
Breast changes are common and they occur throughout a woman’s lifetime. A change in your breasts doesn’t always indicate breast cancer or a health problem; most changes are not cancer. It is important, however, to talk to your doctor about certain breast changes:
- firmness in or around your breast
- changes in size or shape
- nipple inversion
- redness or scaliness
- fluid or discharge from the nipple
Screening can save your life
Cancer is most treatable when it is detected early on. Mammography is the best way to detect breast cancer in its early stages. The Breast Center recommends annual screening mammograms for all women starting at age 40.
You should know your breast cancer risk
Absolute risk and relative risk are not the same thing. Understanding your absolute, or personal, breast cancer risk is important; this information helps you stay ahead of the disease. It can help you do things to decrease your risk for breast cancer and help make sure that you get the appropriate breast cancer screening.