Did you know that an estimated 1 out of every 8 women in the United States is likely to develop breast cancer in her lifetime? At first glance, that information can appear intimidating. However, with early detection, preventative care, research and technological advances, the battle against breast cancer gets stronger each day. Today, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our doctors for women Bedford TX team (as well as our Lewisville and Benbrook specialists) have put together a list of important preventative care tips. Read on to learn more.
Understanding Breast Cancer
As with any condition, we encourage patients to have at least a basic understanding of what a diagnosis means and how it typically impacts the body. This is certainly true of breast cancer. The more a patient understands, the more she can advocate for the highest possible quality of care and treatment options.
Breast cancer, like any cancer, is a condition in which specific cells multiply uncontrollably. In a healthy body, cells are born, grow and die. Cancerous cells result from a gene mutation. This mutation prevents healthy cell activity and instead directs the body to only reproduce specific, irregular cells.
Eat Right & Stay Active
One of the simplest forms of breast cancer prevention is to make a habit of incorporating healthy diet and exercise into everyday life. For those patients who are not already doing this, it may feel overwhelming at the start. Our Bedford doctors accepting new patients (as well as at our Lewisville and Benbrook location) encourage patients to remember that the goal is to form healthy habits, not achieve perfection. Start by picking one action item to focus on from the following list:
- Get the recommended number of daily fruits and vegetables
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Get help understanding your body’s nutritional needs with regular checkups and bloodwork
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle; try to fit in an average of 180 minutes of activity per week
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
Know Your Genetic Risk Level
Another important prevention practice is to be aware of your genetic risk level. This is commonly identified during a thorough health history conversation with your health care provider. Make it a priority to inform him or her if you are aware of any inherited gene mutations.
For patients who know they are at an increased genetic risk level, there are several specialized services to consider. One of them being genetic counseling. Genetic counseling can help patients identify your chances of having a family cancer syndrome and recommend further testing unique to your genetic profile. A genetic counselor will also help patients interpret their test results into usable data.
Have Regular Clinical Breast Exams
It is recommended that women begin getting bi-annual clinical breast exams beginning at age 40. These are exams performed by clinical professionals who will use an x-ray screening tool known as a mammogram to detect any early warning signs. Prior to age 40, patients are encouraged to practice regular self-examination. Warning signs to be aware of include the following:
- Changes in nipple appearance (color, skin condition, turning inward and/or discomfort)
- Discharge not related to breastfeeding
- Dimpling or swelling
It can be difficult to focus on your health when you have so much happening in your life. This is especially true if you’re a mother with children preoccupying most of your time and energy. At Your Family Medical, we put your health first. We offer a wide range of comprehensive women’s health and wellness care for women of all ages so that you can continue living your life happily. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you put YOU first.