Prevention of Breast Cancer


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Prevention list: Methods of prevention of Breast Cancer mentioned in various sources includes those listed below. This prevention information is gathered from various sources, and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Breast Cancer.

  • Prevention of severe breast cancer via early detection:
    • Mammography screening
    • Regular breast self-exams
  • Regular breast self-exams - 70% of cases are self-detected.
  • Regular mammogram screening
  • Bilateral mastectomy

Prevention of Breast Cancer: When breast cancer is found early, a woman has more treatment choices and a good chance of a complete recovery. It is, therefore, important that breast cancer be detected as early as possible. Regular self-examination familiarizes a woman to her breasts. Women learn what looks and feels normal for their breasts, and they are more likely to notice a change. Any changes should be reported to your doctor. Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but only a doctor can make the diagnosis. 1

Instead of surgery, there are other strategies that can prevent breast cancer, and it is advisable to obtain a second professional opinion before deciding to undergo a mastectomy to prevent, rather than treat, breast cancer. 2

Studies have shown that tamoxifen improves the chances of survival and helps prevent recurrence of breast cancer, if the cancer cells are estrogen receptor-positive. Tamoxifen is not an effective treatment for breast cancer that is estrogen receptor-negative, and therefore should not be taken for those cancers. Tamoxifen may have unpleasant side effects that are similar to menopause, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and weight gain. Tamoxifen also slightly increases the risk of uterine cancer and blood clots. Studies suggest that Tamoxifen should not be taken for more than five years 2

There is some preliminary evidence that when used regularly, Raloxifene can reduce the risk of breast cancer. However, more studies are needed to determine if this is true. The National Cancer Institute announced in October 1998 the beginning of a study comparison of Raloxifene to the drug tamoxifen, a drug to prevent breast cancer that has recently been approved by the FDA. It will be two to three years before study results will be known. 3

A woman's risk of breast cancer increases with age; about 80 % of breast cancers occur in women over age 50. A mammogram is a special x-ray of the breast that often can find cancers that are too small for a woman or her doctor to feel. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that women in their 40s or older have a screening mammogram on a regular basis, every 1 to 2 years.4

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Breast Self Exam: NWHIC
2. excerpt from Early Stage Breast Cancer: NWHIC
3. excerpt from Raloxifene: NWHIC
4. excerpt from Cancer Facts for People Over 50 - Age Page - Health Information: NIA

Last revision: April 9, 2003

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