Breast Health/Breast Cancer Prevention Still Needs More Attention
Breast cancer prevention is important for women to learn about, especially since breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women. The American Cancer Society’s web site reports that over two-hundred thousand women were diagnosed with this disease in 2006 and there are over two million women in the United States who have received treatment for breast cancer. With numbers this staggering, preventing cancer should be a priority for all women.
The first and easiest step in breast cancer prevention is knowing what you are up against. This means learning all about the risk factors that may affect you. Family history and genetic make-up are two risk factors women cannot control, but must be aware of when it comes to prevention. If your mother, grandmother or even sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risks go up too.
The choices you make in life also become risk factors. Women who take oral contraceptives could have a greater chance of developing this deadly disease. Having children before the age of thirty can put women at a higher risk for breast cancer. Although some risk factors are easier to control than others, familiarizing oneself with plenty of information will only make fighting cancer easier for you.
There are certain medications available to women who fall under high risk factors for breast cancer. The drug Tamoxifen has been used in the United States for over twenty-five years to help in the fight for breast cancer prevention. The drug is taken once daily as a pill and interferes with the female hormone estrogen, preventing it from attaching itself to cells in the breast tissue.
This medication can also be used to treat women already diagnosed with breast cancer because it can slow down or cease the growth of cancerous cells. Tamoxifen has even been associated with helping prevent a recurrence in women who previously suffered from breast cancer.
A more common way to prevent breast cancer is through mammograms. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and is the most common form of prevention. Women who are over forty years of age should get mammograms on a yearly basis. For women in their twenty’s and thirty’s, the American Cancer Society’s web site recommends getting clinical breast exams at least every three years from a medical professional.
This test is performed using the tips of the fingers to check the entire breast area and under the arm. In addition to mammograms and clinical breast exams, women should also perform breast self exams each month to recognize any signs of lumps or abnormalities in the tissue.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is able to help women who fall within the lower poverty levels, are uninsured or underserved gain access to screenings for breast cancer. This program is called the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The CDC’s web site touts it has served more than two million women under this program since its inception in 1991.
In 2000, Congress expanded this service by opening it up to women who are on Medicaid. This breast cancer control act, formally titled the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, is a way to help women, who may have little access to quality health care, have a chance at breast and cervical cancer prevention.
For anyone who has suffered from breast cancer, maintaining prevention is critical. It should be just as important for those who never have experienced this disease. Breast cancer prevention is about learning your genetic make-up and if anyone in your family suffered from cancer.
Prevention is also about making healthier lifestyle choices by eating right, exercising and avoiding cigarettes. Be smart and make the right decisions to ensure you will have a long and healthy life.