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If breast cancer is found and treated early, the opportunity for a successful outcome is greater. Taking an active role in your personal breast health is important. Breast-screening programs have helped to reduce the number of women who die from the disease by finding the cancer at an early stage.
From an early age, women and men should be familiar with the appearance and feel of their breasts. If you detect any changes, report them to your doctor. But remember, finding a lump does not necessarily mean you have cancer, 80% of all lumps found are not cancerous!
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.
Download our Check 'Em brochure.
Warning signs to look for:
Although a specific technique and monthly routine is no longer recommended, if it is what you prefer then please continue! Click here for a step by step breast self-examination guide.
Mammography and Breast Screening
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. In Canada, more than 97% of breast cancers found by organized screening programs are found at an earlier, more treatable stage which is key to a positive outcome. Click here for provincial breast screening programs.
It is important to know that. 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)
- Dense breast tissue
- Carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Menstruation began before the age of 12
- Reached menopause after the age of 55
- Previous personal history of breast cancer however, approximately 70% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease
- Family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
- Race and Ethnicity i.e. Ashkenazi Jewish women
Having a risk factor(s) does not mean that you will develop breast cancer.
Lifestyle choices that could reduce your risk:
- Limit alcohol intake
- Control your weight, particularly after menopause
- 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
Knowledge is power - Be breast aware!
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.