The Integrative Medicine Clinic is proud to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women after skin cancer.
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer.
- Most breast cancers are found in women 50 years of age or older, but can occur in younger women.
- Approximately 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women less than 45 years of age.
- The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. Using mammogramsto screen for breast cancer can help find it early when it’s easier to treat.
- Men also get breast cancer, but is uncommon. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
There is good news in the fight against breast cancer. Breast cancer deaths continue to decline, thanks to increased awareness and early detection through regular screening. Research has shown that breast cancer screening with mammography has been found to detect cancer early, when it is most treatable.
When to get Mammograms
Women aged 50-74: The USPSTF (U.S. Preventative Services Task Force) recommends every 2 year screening mammography
Women aged 40-49 years: USPSTF and ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have similar recommendations.
Summary of ACOG’s Updated Recommendations for Screening Mammography
- Women at average risk of breast cancer should be offered screening mammography starting at age 40 years.
- If they have not initiated screening in their 40s, they should begin screening mammography by no later than age 50 years. The decision about the age to begin mammography screening should be made through a shared decision-making process. This discussion should include information about the potential benefits and harms.
- Women at average risk of breast cancer should have screening mammography every one or two years based on an informed, shared decision-making process that includes a discussion of the benefits and harms of annual and biennial screening and incorporates patient values and preferences.
- Women at average risk of breast cancer should continue screening mammography until at least 75 years.
- Beyond age 75 years, the decision to discontinue screening mammography should be based on a shared decision making process informed by the woman’s health status and longevity.
For more information, including online shared decision-making tools and resources, please visit ACOG’s Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment Resource Overview.
What about 3-D Mammogram?
Recent studies have shown a 40 percent increase in the detection of invasive cancers and a 27 percent increase in all cancer detection rates by 3D tomosynthesis compared with 2D digital mammography.
The studies further showed 3D tomosynthesis resulted in more than a 15 percent decrease in false-positive recall rates that require patients to return for follow-up testing due to results that misidentified healthy tissue as cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer symptoms can vary and many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms.
In some cases, a lump may be too small for you to feel or to cause any unusual changes you may notice on your own. Often, an abnormal area is detected on a screening mammogram, which leads to further testing.
According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
- Swelling or change in shape of all or part of the breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast pain
- Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Lumps or nodes felt on or inside of the breast
- A lump in the underarm area
- Irritated or itchy breasts
- Change in breast color
Some of these changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst.
It’s important to have anything unusual checked by a qualified doctor.
Get your free breast cancer symptom guide from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. by clicking on this link https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-symptoms-and-signs
Women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center,
“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
A breast self exam should be part of your monthly health care routine, and you should visit your doctor if you detect any breast changes.
To print a copy of the Steps to Breast Self-Examination from Susan G. Komen for the Cure click on this link:
How Can I Try to Prevent Breast Cancer?
About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These can occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process, poor lifestyle choices and exposure to toxins, rather than inherited mutations.
Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. Two things you can do to prevent breast cancer are to eat healthy and to exercise regularly.
Start with a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet may decrease your risk of some types of cancer. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Those who choose the Mediterranean diet eat healthy fats, like olive oil, rather than butter and fish instead of red meat.
Foods that help prevent breast Cancer
- Flaxseed – ground or flaxseed oil
- Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Cabbage – Cruciferous vegetables
- Dark-green leafy vegetables
- Brazil Nuts
- Citrus Fruit
Can Exercise Help Prevent Breast Cancer?
Maintaining a healthy weight is a key factor in breast cancer prevention. Exercise is one of the most important actions you can take to help prevent many types of cancer. Up to one-third of cancer-related deaths are due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, including two of the most common cancers in the United States, breast and colon cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that all adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes hours of vigorous intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week. Many studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown consistently that an increase in physical activity is linked to a lower breast cancer risk.
Find an exercise that you enjoy and invite a friend along to go hiking, swimming, spinning or dancing. Most importantly, make it part of your daily routine for at least 4-5 days per week.
Get your free “Healthy Living and Personal Risk Guide” from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. by clicking on this link go to https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/about-breast-cancer/early-detection/breast-cancer-resources