At the moment breast cancer cannot be
prevented, but it can be diagnosed much earlier than it could be before.
Early diagnosis is possible with
routine mammography and early biopsy of suspicious lesions. The earlier cancer
is found, the better the chances of a cure.
The Breast Health Foundation of South
Africa advises that that women should have a baseline mammogram between the
ages of 35 and 40, followed by a mammogram every year or two for women between
40 and 50 years of age. After age 50, annual mammograms are recommended.
Between 20 and 39, women should have
a clinical breast examination every three years, and annually from 39 on.
The following may help prevent breast
Low fat diet: A
low-fat diet (less than 20 percent fat), with plenty of fruits and vegetables,
and ideal weight maintenance.
Watching for symptoms: When
cancer is found and treated early, there are more treatment choices and a
better chance of recovery. Talk to your doctor about symptoms to watch for, and
an appropriate check-up schedule.
Self-examining breasts: Between
clinical check-ups, do a monthly breast self-exam (BSE). Every woman's
breasts are different, and they change with age, the menstrual cycle,
pregnancy, menopause, or taking oral contraceptives or other hormones. It may
be normal for your breasts to feel lumpy, swollen or tender at times, such as
immediately before a period or during pregnancy. By doing a monthly BSE, after
age 20, you learn what is normal for your breasts, and are more likely to
may slightly decrease risk, especially if continued for 18-24 months.
exercise in youth might provide life-long protection. Even moderate physical
activity as an adult can lower risk.
Treating breast cancer
Risk factors for breast cancer
Diagnosing breast cancer
Health24.com; Breast Health Foundation
Image: Modern mammography x-ray machine from Shutterstock