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Breast Health beyond Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(Posted on ChesterCountyMoms.com - October 18, 2012)

2012 Cancer AwarenessIf you're like most moms, I'm sure you'll agree that there isn't a second to worry about yourself until you've taken care of your family. Putting ourselves last is something we all do, but it's not too late to make some small changes. We're celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month by encouraging all moms to take time every day to monitor their breast health.

In this post, we're sharing the simple steps you can work into your everyday routine to minimize your risk of breast cancer. You'll hear a lot this month about breast health, but what are the main things you should know throughout the entire year?

Every woman should understand her risk, adopt healthy-lifestyle changes that can be started today, and perform the ABC's of early detection. Use this month to educate not only yourself, but also your mother, sisters, or daughters about the importance of breast health.

Understanding Your Risk
The most significant risk factors for developing breast cancer are being a woman and getting older, two things we cannot control. One in eight women will develop breast cancer over her lifetime.

Here is how the risk looks broken down by age:

  • Women in their 30s...1 in 233
  • Women in their 40s...1 in 69
  • Women in their 50s...1 in 38
  • Women in their 60s...1 in 27

Other uncontrollable risk factors include:

  • Genetic risk factors
  • Older age of giving birth or never having children
  • Late menopause
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Treatment with radiation to the chest
  • Earlier abnormal breast biopsy
  • Race

Healthy Lifestyle Changes
The best thing you can do to minimize your risk is to look at your current lifestyle and see how you can tweak it to fit these guidelines - the best defense is an early offense.

  • Maintain a healthy diet...low fat/increased folic acid
  • Alcohol consumption...less than one drink per day
  • Exercise regularly...30 minutes at least 5 days per week
  • Maintain a healthy weight...body mass index (BMI) less than 25
  • Know your family (and your own) health history

ABC's of Early Detection
Early detection is still the best defense against breast cancer - make these practices part of your routine.

Annual Mammograms

  • Start at age 40 unless you have a family history of a first-degree relative
  • Mammograms can detect about 85% of all breast cancers

Breast Awareness

  • Report any noted changes to your healthcare provider right away
  • Normal no dularity vs. unusual changes (keep a record of your normal pattern for your breasts)

Clinical Breast Exams

  • Every 3 years while in your 20s-30s
  • Every year over 40 years of age

Self-Breast Exams

  • Perform monthly and develop a routine
  • Perform lying down and standing in front of a mirror
  • Report any changes to your healthcare provider right away

Contacts & Support
If you have questions about breast health or are interested in programs offered by The Chester County Hospital, check out these local resources.

Free Screening Program
The Chester County Hospital offers a free screening program twice a year to women over 40 who do not have health insurance. The screening includes a mammogram and a clinical breast exam.

Radiology and Women's Imaging Center
Fern Hill Medical Campus
915 Old Fern Hill Road, Building D; Suite 400
West Chester, PA 19380
Call 610.431.5130 to register

Cancer Risk Evaluation Program
This program offered by The Chester County Hospital is specifically designed for women who want information about their personal potential risk for breast (and ovarian) cancer.

The Women's Specialty Center
Fern Hill Medical Campus
915 Old Fern Hill Road, Building D; Suite 503
West Chester, PA 19380
Call 610.423.4556 for more information

Last Updated: 10/19/2012