Learn the No. 1 preventative action of breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and there are certainly many other types of cancers of significance. But we ‘think pink’ since breast cancer affects so many.

Is there a way to prevent the development of breast cancer? Maybe not entirely. But, identifying risk factors is certainly a help. Some factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, family history, genetics and personal history are beyond control of the individual, but are important to be identified.

A part of the campaign to prevent the devastating effects of breast cancer has been the promotion of breast self-exams, although in recent years, different medical organizations have not agreed on the effectiveness or benefits of the BSE. However, beginning in her 20s, a woman should be told about the benefits and limitations of performing such, and then make her own decision about doing it.

BSE involves a systematic palpation of the breasts every month, usually at the end of the menstrual period. Even if she chooses not to do so, the woman needs to be aware of the normal look of her breasts, the size, shape, and the condition of the skin. Her health care provider can teach such, and there is information from sources such as the American Cancer Society on how to perform a BSE.

The most effective way to detect an abnormality in the breast is combining a clinical breast exam by a trained health care provider and having a mammogram. The latter usually started at age 40. Clinical breast exams should be done every three years before the age of 40 and shortly before yearly mammograms after 40.

Mammography is a procedure involving low-dose x-ray that visualizes the internal breast tissue, according to cancer.org.

Men can develop breast cancer, too. Most sources will state that it is 100 times less common than in women. However, it does occur, more often in the older man. Diagnostic measures would be the same as in women.

All in all, if we take care of our bodies act proactively in developing heathy lifestyle habits that will carry into later years and follow routine health check recommendations, the chances one might develop breast cancer are reduced.