Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

By Velma Seabolt, III-A Telehealth Nurse Practitioner

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I ‘d like to start by covering a few facts about breast cancer. It is the second most common cancer in women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Men can develop breast cancer too, but not as frequently as women. Most breast cancers, like other cancers, occur in women age 50 or older. Early detection is critical in preventing this cancer from becoming life threatening. The American Cancer Society recommends a baseline mammogram for women age 40-45. Depending on which medical reference you are looking at the recommendation for follow-up is 1-3 years thereafter until age 80.

As a provider, I’ve been asked, “Is there anything I can do to lower my risks for developing breast cancer?” The answer is yes! Research tells us that taking care of our health in the following ways decreases our risks:

• Keep a healthy weight
• Regular exercise
• Limit alcohol intake (1 glass or less of wine/day)
• Breastfeed your children
• Limit exposure to hormone therapy
• Decrease stress
• Talk to your provider about genetic testing if you have a family history

Another question I’m often asked is, “How would I know if
a lump is worrisome?” There are things to look for when
doing a self-breast exam:

• A new lump in your breasts or underarms
• A thickened area or swelling in part of your breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the breast skin
• Redness or flaky skin on your breast and nipple
• Pulling in of the nipple
• Any change in the size or shape of the breast
• Nipple discharge other than breast milk
• Pain in the breast

I want to stress the importance of early detection of breast cancer. I have a sister recently diagnosed with breast cancer and we had no known family history. She was diligent about getting her mammograms and it was detected at an early stage. Two of my coworkers were diagnosed the past 2 years and they are both young, but with early detection they have increased their odds of living a full life. Lastly, my boss and dear friend was diagnosed at age 40 and this terrible disease took her life at the age of 55. I can’t express enough, to get your annual screenings!

With the III-A there are NO CHARGES for preventative and diagnostic mammograms – including 3D – with an in-network provider! If you have any questions related to breast cancer, please call us on the Telehealth Line and we would be happy to discuss this with you.