Family History & Breast Cancer
About one in eight women will face breast cancer in her lifetime. Many women who get breast cancer have a family history of the disease. Taking control of your health by getting a mammogram and living a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Family history plays the biggest role in determining if a woman will get breast cancer. Statistics show that women who have a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) with breast cancer are twice as likely to develop the disease as the average woman. The risk is five times greater if two first degree relatives have had the disease.
Mutations in genes labeled BRCA1, BRCA2, and CHEK2 are known to cause breast cancer. The following risk factors also play a role:
- High Breast Density – Women with more fibrous and glandular breast tissue than fatty tissue have an increased risk.
- Menstrual History – Women who started their menstrual cycle before age 12 or began menopause at age 55 or later may face increased risk due to longer exposure to progesterone and estrogen.
- Not Giving Birth – Women who have never had children or gave birth after age 35 have an increased risk.
- Obesity – After menopause, excess body fat, especially around the midsection, is linked to a higher breast cancer risk due to increased estrogen levels.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Risk
Although you can’t change your genetic makeup, you can take proactive steps to reduce your breast cancer risk. These steps include:
- Getting a yearly mammogram
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Getting adequate exercise
- Drinking in moderation
- Eating a healthful diet
- Stopping smoking
Medical Interventions that May Lower Breast Cancer Risk
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, you may benefit from a variety of medical interventions to lower your breast cancer risk. You and your doctor can discuss the pros and cons of the following medical tests and medications and decide what treatments are best for you.
- Mammography – The medical community agrees that getting a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40 is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. A digital 3D mammogram provides clear images of breast tissue with minimal radiation exposure.
- Additional Screenings – Based on your family history, your doctor may advise you to get additional testing such as an MRI or ultrasound to aid in detecting tumors or masses. Your doctor may schedule these tests at six-month intervals instead of yearly to find breast changes earlier. Other screenings include monthly self-exams and a yearly exam by your doctor
Choose PURE Mammography for Your Next Mammogram
If you have a family history of breast cancer, be proactive about your health by getting a mammogram at PURE Mammography. We offer 3D mammograms that are the best screening tool available to detect breast tissue abnormalities in the earliest stages. Our certified technicians and caring staff will make your screening as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
Stop by PURE today for your mammogram or call us at 631-652-3424 to learn more.