Breast cancer is a devastating disease that may be very treatable if diagnosed early. There are also steps that you can take to decrease your risk. Make sure you know the five steps to good breast health as listed below.

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women, accounting for 31 percent of all female cancers. It is also the number two cause of death in women. An estimated 178,480 new invasive breast cancer cases will be diagnosed by the end of 2007 in the United States, and 40,460 women will die of this cancer this year. Women in North America have the highest rate of breast cancer in the world, most likely due to our western lifestyle and dietary influences such as being overweight, especially obesity. Obese women have a 30% increased risk of developing this dreaded cancer.

Five steps to maintaining good breast health are:

1. Monthly Breast Self-Exams: Examine your breasts monthly and know your normal breast exam. If you feel a mass or an unusual growth, make an appointment with your doctor to have it checked ASAP.

2. Regular Checkups: See your doctor yearly for a well woman exam, which should include a clinical breast exam. This exam can reveal an abnormality missed by a mammorgram, or vic versa.

3. Recommended Mammograms: Most cancer societies recommend having a mammogram yearly beginning at age 40. However, if a mass is noted prior to this age, a mammogram may be indicated at that time too.

4. Risk Evaluation: You can identify potential risk factors for breast cancer and discuss them with your doctor. Factors that increase your risk of developing breast cancer include: 1) increasing age, 2) a mother, sister, aunt or daughter with breast cancer, 3) a history of a prior abnormal breast biopsy, 4) beginning your first period before age 12, 5) having a child after age 30 or not ever having children.

5. Preventive Breast Health: There are actions that you can do to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer. These include the following: 1) lose excess weight, 2) Eat more fruits and vegetables, 3) Exercise regularly, 4) Don’t smoke, and quit smoking if you do, 5) Ingest an adequate amount of antioxidants.

There are other new advances that may help you assess your risk of developing breast cancer if this tends to run in your family. A new test, BRCA, can help if done properly. Discuss this with your physician to see if you are a candidate and what this means to you.

Robert L. True, MD, FACOG, AACS Colleyville, TX817-399-TRUE Smart Choices for a Better Body: SmartLipo – Smart Breast Aug – Smart Tummy Tuck – Aesthetics – Gynecology – The True Wellness