Finding a breast lump is a common fear for most women. If you find one, you worry that it might be cancer, and you wonder what will happen if it is.
The good news is that eight out of 10 lumps turn out not to be cancer. The even better news is that almost 100 percent of breast cancer cases detected early are treatable and curable.
However, fear of the unknown causes some to delay seeking medical attention. If you think something has changed, you find a new lump, or experience any discomfort, talk to a doctor as soon as possible. Prompt evaluation can put your mind at ease.
Your doctor can help you determine whether your breast lump or other symptom indicates a problem or is benign.
If a lump did turn out to be cancer, early diagnosis greatly improves your chances for successful treatment. In fact, the five-year survival rate for women whose breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage is 97 percent. Efficient screening and early detection in most cases will ensure the cancer is beatable.
Here are 5 ways to prevent breast cancer in average-risk women:
- Mammogram — Schedule a yearly mammogram starting at age 40 and continue for as long as you’re in good health. If mammograms are new to you, view this video on what to expect at your first mammogram.
- Annual checkup — See your doctor once a year, and ask about a clinical breast exam, where your doctor palpates to detect lumps and changes in your breasts. A clinical breast exam (CBE) is recommended about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and better.
- Change your lifestyle with better nutrition — Exercise more and add some Mediterranean flavor to your daily nutrition. Make your diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and olive oil. Add a few servings of fruits and vegetables to your diet each day to reduce your cancer risk. See this link for cancer-fighting foods: http://www.joybauer.com/cancer.aspx.
- Change your lifestyle with more exercise — The time you invest in exercise can do more than just help you lose weight. More than two dozen studies have shown that women who exercise have a 30 percent to 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Learn more about the role of exercise in preventing cancer and many other health concerns.
- There’s an app for that — Changing your lifestyle is not always easy. Fortunately, staying connected is simple these days and can offer a little extra support. There’s an online tool or an app for everything, including calorie counter, exercise tracker and risk assessment. Get to know a few online tools to assess cancer risk and remind you to schedule your screening.
Mammograms are still the best tool for cancer screening and clinical exams help find suspicious lumps early. When found early, the chances for successfully treating breast cancer are greatest.
Practice awareness, stay familiar with your breasts, notice changes and report them to your doctor without delay. It’s peace of mind for you.
The Good News
Breast cancer is generally treatable and beatable with early detection. The expertise of breast health specialists can make a big difference in finding problems on time. Talk to your doctor about the best schedule for your mammograms and begin today if you are 40 and up. For more information about expert care at Baptist Health, call 904.202.2222.