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Best Practices If You Have a Family History of Breast Cancer

One might think that their chances of getting breast cancer are little-to-none. However, for some women, this is a sensitive topic considering someone in their family had breast cancer. If this is the case, it is crucial to take action and be as proactive as possible when it comes to your breast health.

The following are the best practices one can follow to stop breast cancer from cutting your life short:

Get Screened Regularly and Start at a Younger Age

The best way to catch breast cancer early is to get screened regularly. This means getting a mammography and/or breast MRI every year starting at age 40 (or 10 years earlier than the age when your family member got their breast cancer diagnosis).

Remember that breast cancer is often hereditary. If someone in your family has/had it, you also have a higher chance of developing the disease.

In addition to starting breast cancer screenings earlier, you should also get them more frequently. Digital mammography is the best way to detect early signs of breast cancer, so getting one every year. You only need to find a reputable diagnostic center that offers this type of mammogram.

Most centers will require a written request from your physician before a digital mammography. This means you must ask your doctor to give you a written document requesting the procedure. Since many reliable centers offer this procedure, be sure to do your research and find one that provides quality radiology care to patients.

Do Breast Self-exams Monthly

woman getting checkup for breast cancer

Not many people know this, but doing breast self-exams (BSE) is just as critical as getting screened by a professional. You should do this every month, about a week after your period ends. The best time to do a BSE is in the shower when the skin is slippery, and it’s easier to feel any lumps or changes.

Here’s how you can properly do a BSE:

  1. Place your left hand behind your head and use your right hand to feel around your left breast in a circular pattern.
  2. Use small, medium, and large circles, moving from the outer edge of your breast towards the nipple.
  3. Repeat this on your right breast.
  4. Be sure to also feel under your armpits and along your collarbone. If you notice any changes, make an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Get Yourself Checked Before Using Birth Control Pills

If you’re considering using birth control pills, you should get yourself checked by a doctor first. That’s because some types of birth control pills can slightly increase your risk of developing breast cancer, especially if you have a family history of the disease.

Some birth control pills contain a higher level of estrogen, which can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. If you use birth control pills, talk to your doctor about which type is best for you and how long you should use them.

That said, not all birth control pills pose the same risk. If you and your doctor decide that the benefits of taking birth control pills outweigh the risks, then you can use them. But be sure to get yourself checked regularly and stop taking the pills as soon as you reach menopause.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Many lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of breast cancer. These include being overweight, drinking alcohol, not getting enough exercise, and smoking.

To reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means eating a balanced diet, staying active, and controlling your weight. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. And if you smoke, quit as soon as possible.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, you should also try to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins. This includes avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation and chemicals that can increase your risk of developing cancer.

Don’t forget about managing your stress levels. Studies show that chronic stress can contribute to cancer development. When your stress levels are high, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol. This hormone can interfere with the normal functioning of your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses like cancer.

So make sure to find ways to de-stress and relax regularly. Breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation are all great ways to manage stress. You can also try aromatherapy or listening to calming music. Do whatever works for you and helps you relax.

Your family history can also influence your risk of developing breast cancer. You may be at a higher risk if you have close relatives who have had the disease. In this case, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your family history and what steps you can take to reduce your risk. You can also use this list as your guide toward breast cancer prevention.

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