While much work still remains to be done to understand the causes of breast cancer and to develop new tests to detect and diagnose the disease, medical researchers have made significant advances in the fight against breast cancer.
Advances in breast imaging – digital mammography, ultrasound and MRI – enable doctors to find tumors before a palpable lump can be felt. Research conducted over the past 20 years has also enabled scientists to better understand that there are different types of breast cancer, and develop new diagnostic tests to enable more targeted and individualized breast cancer therapies.
Because of such advances, five-year survival rates after a breast cancer diagnosis have improved from an average of 70% in 1992 to greater than 85% today for those with access to care. For breast cancers caught early, five-year survival odds can now be greater than 95%. Although this progress is exciting, there is still a new diagnosis every three minutes.
Below are some preventative tips that you can take now to help reduce your breast cancer risk.
- Reduce alcohol use– Regular consumption of one or more drinks a day for women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Watch your weight– Being overweight is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. It is best to stay at a healthy weight, eat more vegetables and fruits, and limit your consumption of red meats.
- Reconsider hormone replacement therapy– Use hormone replacement therapy only if absolutely necessary, use for as short a time as possible, and discuss alternatives with your doctor.
- Don’t smoke or quit smoking– Tobacco smoke is a known human carcinogen and is an established risk factor for lung cancer. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke should be avoided.
- Examine your family history – Your risk is increased if a family member has had breast cancer, especially if a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) is diagnosed before the age of 50. Speak with a nurse, doctor or your medical provider about your breast cancer risk and additional steps you can take to reduce your risk.
- Get some exercise– Brisk walking for one hour a day can your reduce risk by more than 15%. The American Cancer Society recommends you engage in at least 45 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. If you’re looking for ways to get some exercise while fighting breast cancer, consider signing up for an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. There are six walks remaining in 2012, including: Chicago (June 2-3), Rocky Mountains (June 23-24), San Francisco (July 7-8), Santa Barbara (September 22-23), New York (October 20-21), Charlotte (October 27-28). And it’s not too early to sign up for a 2013 Walk. I’m pleased to offer a $10 registration discount for More.com readers. When registering at www.avonwalk.org, just enter the code “WALK2″ at checkout to receive the discount.
You can learn more about reducing your risk by visiting:
- American Cancer Society www.cancer.org
- National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov
- Zero Breast Cancer www.zerobreastcancer.org
For more breast cancer information and resources, visit www.cancer.org or http://www.avonfoundation.org/breast-cancer-crusade/.