Breast Cancer Prevention

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Introduction to breast cancer prevention

For so many women, there is no more dreaded disease than breast cancer. Breast cancer elicits fears related to loss of body image and sexuality, surgery, and death. As is the case for most cancers, the exact cause of breast cancer is not clearly known. Furthermore, there is currently no cure for advanced disease, and there is no definitive way of preventing it.

Breast cancer also affects men. Male breast cancer accounts for about 1% of all breast cancers. Around 330,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in women in the U.S., while about 2,200 cases are diagnosed in men.

Our knowledge of how breast cancer develops is expanding rapidly. As a result, new medications are being developed to reduce the risk of breast cancer among those at high risk of contracting this disease. For the majority of women, lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, exercise, and weight reduction can also help reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. To date, the most important strategy in improving survival is still breast cancer screening and early detection. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. The leading cause is lung cancer. One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer. The risk is even higher for women with previous breast cancer, those who have first-degree relatives with breast cancer, those with multiple family members with cancer, and those who have inherited "cancer genes."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2013

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Breast Cancer Prevention - Mammograms Question: How often do you get a mammogram? How old were you when you received your first screening?
Breast Cancer Prevention - Genetic Tests Question: Does your family have a history of breast or other cancers? Have any relatives been tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes?
Breast Cancer Prevention - Early Detection Question: Were you diagnosed with early stage breast cancer? If so, what was the treatment?
Breast Cancer Prevention - Foods Question: Are you eating certain foods to reduce your risk of breast cancer?
Learn the facts and get information about breast cancer.

Families with Breast Cancer

What are the facts about families that have multiple members with breast cancer?

Overall, inherited breast cancer disorders account for a small minority of breast cancers. Genes are the "messages" in each cell of the body that determine the ultimate design of our bodies. Genes can be damaged by the environment. Additionally, people can be born with defects in the genes that remove the body's defenses against cancers. Only in about 10% of all breast cancer cases is there actually an inherited genetic defect that can be tested. In fact, most cases of breast cancer occur in women who do not have a family history of breast cancer. A complex interplay between environmental and genetic factors affects the development of breast cancer, and all the key factors have not yet been identified.


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