Each October is identified as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During the month, women are encouraged to assess their risk for this disease, get a mammogram, and learn how to perform monthly self-exams.
Breast cancer is the second leading cancer among women in the United States, but millions of women are surviving the disease, thanks in part to regular screening, early detection, and improvements in treatment. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage you to increase healthy lifestyle habits to reduce the risk for breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the following lifestyle changes may help you reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Get to and maintain a healthy weight: excess body weight and weight gain in adulthood are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. The American Cancer Society recommends women stay at a healthy weight, or take action to get to a healthy weight by balancing food intake with physical activity. If you need assistance in getting to a healthy weight, talk with your primary care physician to develop a plan.
Be physically active: based on many studies, moderate and vigorous physical activity is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. Try to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week to help lower your risk.
Avoid or limit alcohol: drinking alcohol is directly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to one drink per day.
Some women have an increased risk for breast cancer due to a strong family history, or a gene mutation. For those women, there are some additional things you can do to lower your chances of developing breast cancer (or to help find it earlier). If you fall into this category, you can explore genetic counseling and testing for breast cancer risk, close monitoring to look for early signs, medications to lower your risk, or preventative surgery.
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to completely eliminate your risk for breast cancer. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you can receive treatment close to home at Decatur County Hospital. Our Outpatient Clinic hosts Oncologist Dr. Zeeshan Jawa, MD, each month to guide cancer patients through their journey. We also offer onsite infusion services to treat cancer. If you have a cancer diagnosis, call us at 641-446-2285 to learn more about our services and how we can help you through your cancer journey.
To access free resources and learn more about breast cancer, visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html. Breast health is only part of an overall healthy life. As a woman, you have unique needs and potential health concerns. To receive an annual pelvic exam, pap smear, or other women’s health screenings, call us at 641-446-2285 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Earle M. Pescatore Jr., DO, our Gynecologist who visits the DCH Outpatient Clinic each week.