Most women may know the basics, but they may not know how to ensure they’re in good hands during screening or after diagnosis. The following facts can help you determine your risk factors and know what you can be doing to diminish your chance at a breast cancer diagnosis.
Are you at risk?
Breast cancer isn’t just one kind of cancer; it is many different types. Knowing that it is ductal or lobular carcinoma is no longer enough.
Within its cell structure are many specific features informing scientists that breast cancer is made up of hundreds of different types. This also helps scientists better understand why it has been so hard to cure and prevent.
Know your risk factors.
- Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Drinking alcohol
- Having atypical cells on a breast biopsy
Don’t have any risk factors? Well, being female is technically a risk factor, however 85% of women diagnosed don’t have the risk factors listed above. 1in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85.
Know the geography of your breasts.
You should know your breasts better than anyone. Even though they may be lumpy and bumpy, those lumps and bumps are “your normal,” and you should be checking your breasts monthly, at the same time of the month, to see if there is any change.
Take an active role in reducing your risk.
Follow a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, maintaining a normal weight, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol, and adhering to a healthy, well-balanced diet that’s rich in green and orange veggies.
Facing a diagnosis.
An accurate diagnosis leads to the right treatment plan. Make sure the pathologist reading the breast biopsy specimen slides as well as the pathology slides from breast surgery specializes in breast cancer. If the pathology is wrong then the treatment will also be wrong.
Survival and beyond.
The goals of treatment today should no longer be limited to just survival. Women deserve to also have their life goals preserved—fertility preservation, staying on track for the next promotion, becoming a professional musician. If the treatment team doesn’t know what these life goals are, treatments given to the patient may cause her to forfeit these life goals.
Women need to speak up, and make their doctors aware of what their life goals are. They should request that they be factored into the decision making about treatment options. Women should only give breast cancer the time it requires to get rid of it. It doesn’t deserve to take away her social time, personal time, work time, or family time.
There is some good news in all of this. More women with metastatic disease are living longer—even decades—thanks to improvements in treatments.
Talk to any of our expert doctors at WHASN about your risk factors and what screenings or tests are right for you. We are here for all of your gynecological and obstetric needs.