Early Detection &
Breast Health Tips
- Early Breast Cancer Detection – Experts recommend women get to know their own bodies: report any changes in your breast to your medical provider right away and talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer and when to be screened. For more detailed recommendations visit the American Cancer Society website. Medical experts also recommend:
- Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year (programs that link you to mammography providers can be found by visiting www.avonbreastcare.org)
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of their periodic health exam by a health professional, preferably every three years (community-based groups that can help link you to a CBE can be found at www.avonbreastcare.org)
- If you are a young black woman, be aware that more cancers tend to develop in women of your race at younger ages—years when mammography does not work and is not routinely recommended. Talk to your doctor about your risk and when to be screened.
- Breast self exam: Experts now recommend that women get to know their own bodies and watch for any changes. BSE is an option for women starting in their 20s. You should report any changes in your breast health to your doctor right away. You can learn more by visiting the ACS website.
- Reduce Your Risk – Here are some suggestions to help reduce your risk of breast cancer. (For more detailed tips and advice, please visit the Zero Breast Cancer and the Silent Spring Institute websites.)
- Examine your family history – Your risk is increased if a family member has had breast cancer, especially if a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) is diagnosed before the age of 50. Speak with a nurse, doctor or your medical provider about your breast cancer risk and additional steps you can take to reduce your risk.
- Get some exercise– Brisk walking for one hour a day can your reduce risk by more than 15%. The American Cancer Society recommends you engage in at least 45 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. If you're looking for ways to get some exercise while fighting breast cancer, consider signing up for an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Next year's series steps off in Houston on April 20-21, 2013!
- Minimize radiation exposure – The human breast is sensitive to radiation-associated cancers, especially if exposure occurs at young ages. Girls repeatedly exposed to radiation before the age of 20 are at highest risk for developing breast cancer. The leading source of radiation exposure is medical diagnostic imaging procedures (X-rays).
- Modify alcohol intake – Regular consumption of one drink a day for women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke – Tobacco smoke is a known human carcinogen and is an established risk factor for lung cancer. Exposure to smoking and secondhand smoke should be avoided, particularly during childhood, puberty, pregnancy and when breast feeding.
- Avoid exposures to exogenous estrogens
- Hormone replacement therapy – Use only if absolutely necessary; use for as short a time as possible, and discuss alternatives with your doctor.
- Hormonally active environmental chemicals – Some studies suggest chemicals in our homes, water and environment may play a role in cancer development. To learn more you can visit the NIH's Household Products Database and the websites for Zero Breast Cancer and Silent Spring Institute.
- Maintain leanness or reduce weight – The relationship between being overweight and breast cancer risk is one of the best understood to date. It is known that women who gain more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of breast cancer (postmenopausal) compared to women whose weight remains stable.
- Lymphedema – Lymphedema is a chronic, debilitating disorder following cancer treatment that can cause arm swelling and chronic inflammation. There are new advances and recommendations for women diagnosed with breast cancer:
- Nutrition – Nutrition plays an important role in your health. You can learn more by visiting God's Love We Deliver website. For more detailed information, download a free Nutritional Tips for Breast Cancer Patients booklet.
- Know Your Resources –Don't overlook your own breast health. Survival rates increase dramatically in women who've been diagnosed with breast cancer early. If you are living in a low-income household, or are underinsured or uninsured, there are many resources available, regardless of your ability to pay, that can help you seek out the proper breast care: