Although there are no guarantees, you can take some steps to help prevent breast cancer:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Limit your use of alcohol. If you drink, you may be able to decrease your risk of breast cancer by taking a folate supplement.
Follow a healthy diet low in fat and high in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower).
(HL â official recommendation has been to neither encourage or discourage self breast exam)Have your doctor examine your breasts every three years if you are under age 40 and every year if you are over 40.
Have regular mammograms. Mammograms can detect breast cancer two to five years before a tumor becomes large enough to be felt as a lump. Although the specific frequency of mammograms is controversial, many experts still recommend annual mammograms for women older than 40.
Also, researchers have found mutations in two genes - BRCA1 and BRCA2 - that are associated with hereditary breast cancer. Women who believe they may be at especially high risk of hereditary breast cancer should consult with a genetic counselor prior to testing.
Treatment for breast cancer almost always begins with a decision about the type of surgery. The two options are removing the entire breast (mastectomy) or removing only the cancerous lump and a small amount of healthy tissue around it (lumpectomy). Following surgery, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or a combination of therapies. The additional therapies improve risk of cancer recurrence and spread.
Radiation therapy, sometimes called radiotherapy, almost always is recommended after lumpectomy to destroy any cancer cells left behind and to prevent the cancer from returning. Without radiation therapy, the odds of the cancer returning increase by about 25%.
The need for chemotherapy depends on how much the cancer has spread. In some cases, chemotherapy will be recommended before surgery to shrink a large tumor so that it can be removed more easily. Chemotherapy is almost always necessary if cancer returns.