Does my Family History Affect my Risks of Breast Cancer?

Grandmother with her grandaughterEvery woman has a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s a sobering statistic, but for women with a strong family history of this disease, the chance is even higher.

The good news is that when breast cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate skyrockets to 92 percent. If you have close family members who’ve battled breast cancer, there are effective steps you can take to try to minimize your risk.

How Does Family History Play a Role in Breast Cancer Risk?

A woman is considered to be in the “high risk” category for developing breast cancer if she meets the following criteria:

  • Has a first-degree family member (mother, sister, daughter or male counterpart) who’s had breast cancer.
  • Has a parent or family member who’s tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 cancer gene.
  • Has tested positive for the abnormal CHEK2 gene.
  • Has received radiation treatment at a young age (10 to 30) for any chest condition.

If your mother or sister battled breast cancer, your chance of developing the disease is double. If more than one first-degree family member had the disease, your risk jumps fivefold. If you fall into any of these categories, you should talk to your doctor about proactive steps to reduce your cancer risk.

How Mammograms Are an Effective Tool in Breast Cancer Detection

If you are at high risk for breast cancer, you need to develop a plan with your doctor for earlier and more frequent mammograms. Although yearly mammograms are usually not recommended until age 40, women at high risk should consider these additional screening strategies:

  • Conducting a monthly self-exam of the breast
  • Seeing a doctor or nurse practitioner for a yearly manual breast exam
  • Receiving ultrasound screenings
  • Getting MRI screenings

You and your doctor may decide on a plan that incorporates some or all of these strategies at different intervals. For example, you might get a yearly mammogram, but add an MRI or ultrasound every six months. You might also visit your doctor for a manual breast exam before following up with a mammogram. Your doctor will take your health history and risk factors into account to come up with the best plan for you.

What Are Other Ways to Lower My Chances of Getting Breast Cancer?

Following a healthy lifestyle can help lower your cancer risk. Some healthy choices you can make include:

  • Losing weight
  • Following a regular exercise program
  • Cutting back on alcohol consumption
  • Eating healthy foods including fruits and vegetables
  • Stopping smoking

Where Can I Find Mammography Screening on Long Island?

PURE Mammography is the premier mammogram facility located on Long Island. Conveniently located inside a New York shopping mall, you can stop into PURE after an afternoon of shopping and get a 3D mammogram without an appointment. 3D mammograms are the latest technology that detects invasive breast cancer earlier and reduces false positives by more than 40 percent.

Your comfort and care are our top priorities at PURE. You’ll receive your mammogram in a spa-like environment where you’ll be pampered with warm robes, waiting room refreshments, and an exam room designed to put you at ease. Call us at 631-652-3424 if you’d prefer to make an appointment or visit our website for more information today.

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