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Breast Cancer Prevention & Early Detection

By Heather Lynch, RN, BSN, OCN, Breast Nurse Navigator, Seacoast Cancer Center

Almost everyone knows a woman who has been affected by breast cancer. Women in the United States have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with the disease during their lifetimes. 

Detecting breast abnormalities early is key to finding and diagnosing breast cancer before symptoms arise. Women whose breast cancers are detected early have significantly higher survival rates. 

Here some things to keep in mind to help reduce your risk of breast cancer or help catch it in its earliest stages. 

  1. Talk with your doctor about specific screening recommendations based on your age, family history, personal history and genetic mutations. Although only a small percentage of breast cancer is inherited, genetics testing may be an option, says Dr. Barbara Civiello, a medical oncologist at the Seacoast Cancer Center. 

  2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping your body mass index within a defined range and exercising for 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week has been shown to decrease risk of breast cancer. 

  3. Limit your alcohol intake. Dr. Civiello recommends no more than 3 to 5 drinks per week to her patients. 

  4. Finally, any palpable lump, nipple discharge, skin changes, lumps under the arm, or other breast changes should be evaluated by your doctor right away. 

The Susan G. Komen and National Cancer Institute websites are excellent resources for additional information about breast cancer prevention and early detection information. 

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