If breast cancer is found and treated early, the opportunity for a successful outcome is greater. Taking an active role in your personal breast-screening program is important. Breast-screening programs and better treatments have helped to reduce the number of women who die from the disease. Talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you, and when you should have them.
From an early age, women and men should be familiar with the appearance and feel of their breasts to detect changes and report them to your doctor. But remember, finding a breast change does not necessarily mean you have cancer.
A specific technique and monthly routine is no longer recommended but a common sense approach of being breast aware is. However, if you prefer a step by step approach, please see instructions below.
For best results, be sure to examine your breasts when the breasts are not tender or swollen. Women who are breast-feeding should do so when they are empty. Women with breast implants may find it helpful to have a doctor differentiate between the breast tissue and implant.
A mammography exam is a low-dose x-ray of the breast and is done in a clinic or screening centre. If you are between 40-49 check with your healthcare professional about having a mammogram. If you are 50 and over, recommendations are that you should have a mammogram every two years. If you are 70 years or older, discuss with your doctor how often you should be tested for breast cancer.
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Below are some risk factors that you can and can't control. It is important to know that having a risk factor(s) does not mean that you will develope breast cancer. Know your risks, reduce what you can and be breast aware.
Risk factors you can't control:
Being a woman (men have a 1% chance of developing breast cancer)
Breast feed: the longer you breast feed the greater the protection
Get plenty of exercise. 60 minutes of moderate physical activity is recommended by the Public Health Agency of Canada
Discontinue Hormone Therapy. Ask your doctor about possible alternatives
Avoid exposure to known carcinogens
Recent use of oral contraceptives
The old saying "knowledge is power" holds true!
Disclaimer: The Breast Cancer Society of Canada does not give medical advice or offer analysis or interpretations of the information we make available and we do not provide medical referrals. We do not approve of or endorse any particular treatment or course of action found through the web links listed above. They should not be used for self-diagnosis and should not be relied upon as a substitute for regular consultations with a qualified health professional who is familiar with your individual medical history and needs.