- Do what you can to lower your risk
Although there are a number of risk factors for breast cancer you can’t control, such as your age and family history, there are some things you can do to help prevent the disease. For one, you can stay active. The American Cancer Society recommends 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week to help keep breast cancer at bay. You can also limit your alcohol intake to one drink or less per day. (Women who drink two to five drinks per day have one and a half times the risk of breast cancer of those who drink less). In addition, you can keep your weight at a healthy level and eat a low fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. At this point, antiperspirants, bras, abortions and miscarriages and breast implants all do not appear to increase breast cancer risk.
- If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, take care of yourself
Don't ever blame yourself for getting breast cancer. Scientists have identified a number of risk factors, but no one knows what causes this disease. Wracking your brain for reasons is a waste of energy; there are no answers. And don't feel pressured to carry out your "to-do" list to the degree that you did before your diagnosis. For example, forgive yourself if you are late for a lunch date or forget to send your nephew a birthday card. People will understand.
- Expect and plan for fatigue
If you are undergoing cancer treatment or expect to be, it's important to plan for the eventuality that you may feel very fatigued during the treatment period. If possible, arrange in advance to have friends and family pitch in with meal preparation, child care, caring for your pets and other household tasks in case you just don't feel up to it. Speak with your employer about taking time off or working flexible hours while you're undergoing treatments. Studies have shown that general fatigue, including fatigue caused by anemia, affects a majority of patients undergoing cancer treatment. Other side effects of treatment can include nausea, depression and pain.
- Realize your options for mammogram coverage
Most health insurers and Medicare cover mammography, an x-ray screening for breast cancer. The cost of mammography varies depending on the state and facility. If you are not insured and cannot afford mammography, call the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's National Toll-Free Breast Care Helpline at 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465-6636), your state health department or the nearest YWCA (ask about the ENCOREplus Program) for referrals to free or low-cost mammography for qualifying women.
You can also contact the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 1–800–CDC–INFO (1-800-232-4636), TTY: 1-888-232-6348 or on the Internet at www.cdc.gov. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when many mammography facilities offer special fees and extended hours. If you want to schedule a mammogram at this time of year, it helps to call in September to reserve an appointment.
For more information on risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options for breast cancer, visit the HealthyWomen Health Center at http://www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/breast.
© 2013. National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc. All rights reserved. All content provided in this guide is for information purposes only. Any information herein relating to specific medical conditions, preventive care and/or healthy lifestyles does not suggest individual diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for medical attention.Back to Breast Cancer Awareness Guide Home Page
Back to HealthyWomen Home Page