Know your Breast Cancer Risk FactorsThe single most effective way to survive this killer disease is early detection. Knowing your risk factors is important knowledge that will help catch the disease in its still treatable stages. Below are the most commonly known risk factors of breast cancer.
- Genetics is thought to be the primary risk factor for breast cancer. This is, obviously, a risk factor beyond control. However, knowing one's family history of cancer (particularly among close female relatives) is important so women can know how frequently they need to undergo screening
- Age is risk factor. The older a woman, the higher are her chances of getting the disease
- Not having had children and not breast feeding also increases risk
- Smoking is the single biggest modifiable and controllable risk factor. It increases cancer risk by 35 to 50%
- The use of birth control pills has been linked to breast cancer. However, the research behind the studies are controversial
- Obesity and high fat diets are also identified as risk factors
- Alcohol intake is also a risk factor
- Some occupations that involve shift work and radiation exposure could also increase risk
Lead a healthy lifestyle, know the symptoms, have an early detection plan
After assessing risk factors, women should devise an early detection plan that involves breast self exam, clinical exams and mammograms. Self exams are meant to be performed monthly. On the other hand,clinical exams as well as mammograms should be performed as frequently as one's risk factors indicate. In some cases, ultrasound procedures may be indicated. In addition the NBCF organizes free screening facilities in conjunction with various partners that women can benefit from.
Knowledge is another tool that helps in fighting the disease. Knowing what early warning signs to look for can also improve outcomes very significantly. Lumps or tumors anywhere in the breast or armpit area could be problematic, though it is important to know that a majority of such lumps are benign. Please seek medical help if you notice any change in size, shape or appearance of the breast as well as redness, inversion, and enlargement of the pores (the orange peel effect).
Unexplained weight loss, fevers and chills could also be symptoms in some cases. The thing to look out for is anything unusual or doesn’t seem right to you. These changes could be completely harmless, but it doesn’t hurt to be a little extra cautious when it comes to breast cancer!
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If you wish to donate for breast cancer research or want more information about breast cancer, you can visit the NBCF website.