KEEP­ING ABREAST OF CAN­CER

There is no ev­i­dence of a di­rect link be­tween breast can­cer and breast im­plants, us­ing an­tiper­spi­rants or wear­ing un­der­wire bras. Ad­vice and knowl­edge on breast can­cer health

201 Health - - News -

Ad­vice and knowl­edge on breast can­cer health

HOW CAN I AS­SESS MY RISK FOR BREAST

CAN­CER? Over the course of a life­time, one in eight women will be di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer. With re­gard to risk, there are cer­tain fac­tors that are sim­ply out of your con­trol. Th­ese in­clude:

• AGE AND GEN­DER The risk in­creases if you are a woman and as you get older.

• FAM­ILY HIS­TORY OF BREAST CAN­CER You might also have a higher risk if you have a close rel­a­tive who has had breast, ovar­ian or colon can­cer.

• GENES Some peo­ple have ge­netic mu­ta­tions that place them at higher risk. The most com­mon are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Those mu­ta­tions are rare and not present in most women with breast can­cer.

• MEN­STRUAL CY­CLE Women who got their pe­ri­ods be­fore age 12 or went through menopause late (af­ter age 55) have an in­creased risk.

How­ever, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take ac­tion. Healthy life­style changes might re­duce your over­all chance of get­ting can­cer:

• LIMIT YOUR AL­CO­HOL CON­SUMP­TION. Even one al­co­holic drink per day can slightly in­crease your risk.

• EAT A HEALTH­FUL DIET. Choose whole grains in­stead of re­fined grain prod­ucts, eat more fruits and veg­eta­bles, and limit pro­cessed foods and red meat.

• MAIN­TAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT. Obe­sity has

been linked to breast can­cer.

DOES A DI­AG­NO­SIS OF BREAST CAN­CER AU­TO­MAT­I­CALLY MEAN BREAST RE­MOVAL IS NEC­ES­SARY?

Fac­ing a breast ab­nor­mal­ity is one of the scari­est mo­ments in a per­son’s life. A di­ag­no­sis of breast can­cer or any cause for con­cern might feel daunt­ing. Be­fore de­cid­ing whether surgery is right for you, you and your doc­tor should con­sider the fol­low­ing: the size and lo­ca­tion of your tu­mor; how many tu­mors there are in the breast; how much of the breast is af­fected; the size of your breast; your age; your fam­ily his­tory; your gen­eral health; and whether you have reached menopause. If it is de­cided that surgery is your best course of ac­tion, you may dis­cuss var­i­ous op­tions, in­clud­ing lumpec­tomy (also called breast con­ser­va­tion ther­apy or par­tial mas­tec­tomy) where only the breast can­cer and sur­round­ing tis­sue are re­moved. An­other op­tion is mas­tec­tomy, which en­tails re­mov­ing all the breast tis­sue. Mas­tec­tomy is a bet­ter choice if the area of can­cer is too large to re­move with­out de­form­ing the breast. Ad­vances and new re­search are ubiq­ui­tous when it comes to the care and treat­ment of breast can­cer pa­tients, so you should con­sider as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble and dis­cuss all op­tions with your doc­tor.

I HAVE A FAM­ILY HIS­TORY OF BREAST CAN­CER. SHOULD I PROAC­TIVELY SEEK A MAS­TEC­TOMY BE­FORE I EVEN RE­CEIVE A DI­AG­NO­SIS?

You might be more likely to get breast can­cer if one or more close fam­ily rel­a­tives has had it, es­pe­cially at an early age. Ge­netic tests might help show that you have a high risk. Women who have a very high risk of de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer may choose to have a preven­tive (or pro­phy­lac­tic) mas­tec­tomy to re­duce the fu­ture oc­cur­rence of breast can­cer. That is not com­monly per­formed if ge­netic tests are neg­a­tive. In­creas­ing your clin­i­cal breast ex­ams and imag­ing might be im­por­tant, so dis­cuss with your clin­i­cian.

Pro­phy­lac­tic mas­tec­tomy should be done only af­ter very thoughtful dis­cus­sion with your doc­tor, a ge­netic coun­selor, and your fam­ily and loved ones. Mas­tec­tomy greatly re­duces, but does not elim­i­nate, the risk of breast can­cer.

HOW CAN I PRE­VENT BREAST CAN­CER?

Early de­tec­tion is still your best weapon. An es­ti­mated 7,000 women in New Jersey will dis­cover some­time this year that they have breast can­cer. How­ever, there is tremen­dous hope: Mam­mog­ra­phy has helped re­duce breast can­cer mor­tal­ity by nearly one-third since 1990. And when de­tected early, it has a 98 per­cent cure rate. For those rea­sons, an­nual mam­mog­ra­phy is vi­tal. The goal is to de­tect breast can­cer early, when it is one cen­time­ter or less, which is of­ten be­fore a pa­tient can feel it. Stud­ies show that a mam­mog­ra­phy can help re­duce the num­ber of deaths from breast can­cer among women ages 40 to 70, es­pe­cially for those older than 50.

DR. MICHELLE AZU, FACS

DI­REC­TOR, BREAST SURGERY, CHILTON HOS­PI­TAL, POMP­TON PLAINS

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