Risks and Prevention
Breast Cancer is the most commonly reported cancer in Oregon, and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. What are your risks, and how can you reduce them?
Risks of Developing Breast Cancer
Talk with your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
- Age - The risk of breast cancer increases significantly with age. The specialists at Rogue Valley Women's Imaging encourage all women over 40 to get a screening mammogram every year.
- Genetics - A woman with an inherited alteration in two genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, has up to an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime.
- Family history - 5 to 10 percent of women who get breast cancer had a mother, sister or daughter ("first degree" relative) with breast cancer.
- Breast lesions - A previous breast biopsy result of atypical hyperplasia (lobular or ductal) increases a woman's breast cancer risk by four to five times.
- Pregnancy before age 18
- Early onset of menopause
- Surgical removal of the ovaries before age 37
- Regular use of tobacco or alcohol and over age 40
Ways to Reduce Your Risks
You can reduce your risk for getting breast cancer or at least increase your odds of finding it early when it is still treatable.
- Do a monthly self breast self-exam. You might catch a lump before a mammogram does, and it's a good idea to follow changes in your body. To learn how to do a self exam, visit www.breastcancer.org and, in the search window, enter "Five Steps to a Self Breast Exam" or click here.
- Limit yourself to two or three alcoholic drinks a week.
- Exercise and eat healthy. Studies show women who exercise at least three times a week (more often is better) and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day significantly lower their risk of breast cancer or having a recurrence of breast cancer.
- Maintain your body weight, or lose weight if you're overweight. Research shows that being overweight or obese (especially if you're past menopause) increases your risk, especially if you put on the weight as an adult. And a study released in March 2008 by researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston showed that obese and overweight women also had lower breast cancer survival rates and a greater chance of more aggressive disease than average-weight or underweight women.
Early Detection Is Key
The American Cancer Society reports the five-year breast cancer survival rate after successful treatment to be:
- 98%-100% for Stage 1 (stage I) breast cancer
- 88%-92% for Stage 2 (stage IIa, stage IIb) breast cancer
- 49%-67% for Stage 3 (stage IIIa, stage IIIb) breast cancer
- 16%-20% rate for Stage 4 (stage IV) breast cancer.