5 Questions: Think Pink

Q: Can breast cancer be prevented?

A: There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things all women can do that might reduce their risk and help increase the odds that if cancer does occur, it is found at an early, more treatable stage.

Q: How can I lower my risk of developing breast cancer?

A: You can lower your risk of breast cancer by changing those risk factors that can be changed. Women who limit alcohol intake, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy body weight have a lower risk of getting breast cancer. Women who choose to breast-feed for at least several months may also get an added benefit of reducing their breast cancer risk. Not using hormone therapy after menopause can help you avoid raising your risk.

Q: Is there more I can do?

A: Other than lifestyle changes, the most important action a woman can take is to follow early detection guidelines.

Q: What are the American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection?

A: Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional, at least every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.

Breast self exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

Q: What causes breast cancer?

A: Many risk factors may increase your chance of developing breast cancer, but it is not yet known exactly how some of these risk factors cause cells to become cancerous. Hormones seem to play a role in many cases of breast cancer, but just how this happens is not fully understood.


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