By Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain
Each October communities rally together in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women, and in 2019 alone, more than 260,000 women and 2,500 men were diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that there are lifestyle changes that can help decrease the potential risk of developing breast cancer and increase the chance of survival.
It is important to understand and accept that there are some risk factors that are naturally out of your control. These include aging, family history of breast cancer and other genetic factors. However, with regular visits to your physician, these factors can become more manageable. The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends getting a mammogram screening every two years if you are over the age of 50. If you are younger, talk to your physician about your and your family’s medical history to determine when and how often to get a mammogram.
Additionally, ask your physician about how at-home breast awareness can help with early detection. According to the CDC, some warning signs of breast cancer include lumps in the breast or underarm, red or irritated breast skin or any change in the size or shape of the breast. To learn more about the warning signs of breast cancer, consult with you physician to learn what to keep an eye out for. By regularly monitoring your health, you may catch something before it becomes serious.
Although breast cancer isn’t completely preventable, there are some simple ways you can lower your risk by taking care of your health. By keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly and limiting your alcoholic intake, you can help lower your risk of developing cancer. It is also smart to consult with your doctor about any hormones or contraceptives you might be taking and learn of any associated risks.
These small lifestyle changes along with open communication during regular doctor visits and self-awareness can help lower your risk of cancer and help increase your chances of survival if cancer does occur. If you would like more information about breast cancer, visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation or talk to your physician. You can also connect with a local support group in your community in order to further provide support, education and awareness if you or a loved one is facing breast cancer.
Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood. For more information, call 972-394-8844, or visit texasmedicine.com.