Breast Cancer: Prevention and Screening

You play an important role in your breast health.


October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you may already be aware that breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. Here at Woman’s Hospital, we also hope you’re aware that you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing the disease.

Preventing Breast Cancer
Some risk factors for breast cancer, such as genetics, are beyond your control. But the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have suggestions for what women can do to avoid other risk factors and take preventive steps:

  • Avoid overeating – weight gain and obesity can increase the risk for women who have gone through menopause and did not use hormone replacement therapy.
  • Don’t use combined hormone therapy after going through menopause.
  • Limit alcohol consumption – even small amounts can raise the risk.
  • Exercise – for some premenopausal women, regular exercise reduces the  risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Nurse your babies – several months of breastfeeding may reduce your cancer risk.

Screening for Breast Cancer
The two major methods used to detect breast cancer are mammographies and breast exams. The ACS has these recommendations for screening:

  • Beginning in their 20s, women should self-examine their breasts. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has instructions for how to properly perform a breast self-exam (BSE).
  • Have a medical professional observe a BSE to ensure it’s done properly.
  • Tell your doctor about any lump, swelling, skin irritation or other abnormality you find during a BSE.
  • Beginning in their 20s, women should have a medical professional give them a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of routine physical checkups. This should happen at least once every three years.
  • At age 40, women should have a mammogram and then get one each year after, as long as their health remains good.
  • Women with an increased risk of developing breast cancer should consult with their doctors about annual MRIs, along with a mammogram.

At Woman’s Hospital, we’re proud to be just one of four hospitals in the state named a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR). When it’s time for your mammogram or another breast-related procedure, we’re ready for you.

Related Posts:
Preparing for Your Mammogram

Regular Exercise: What Are the Benefits?

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