CANCER. There is hardly another word that evokes such powerful emotions. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in the United States and the second leading cause of death. Many factors contribute to a person developing cancer. Just by being a woman, our risk increases. Even though we know some of the factors that can lead to developing cancer, there is no definitive answer as to why breast cancer develops in some women and not others.
Know your body!
The most important step that a woman can take to reduce the risk of breast cancer is to familiarize yourself with your body. Monthly self breast exams are vital! Johns Hopkins Medical center states,“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” If you know the normal look and feel of your breast tissue, you can more easily detect any changes and notify your doctor. This can save your life! Early detection can increase survival rate up to 50%!
What about mammography?
The American Cancer Society recommends that women with average risk of breast cancer receive a mammography annually starting at age 40. This year, however, a large Canadian study which followed a group of 90,000 women between ages 40-59 years old for 25 years showed that mammography did not reduce the rate of breast cancer death and lead to over-diagnosis and unnecessary treatment (surgery/ chemotherapy/ radiation) of 22% of women with mammogram-detected breast cancer. This is all the more reason to receive bi-annual clinical breast exams as an essential step in early detection of any breast changes.
The “Angelina Effect”
Genetic screening is another way of accessing your risk for breast cancer, especially if there is a strong family history. Within 6 months of Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy announcement, BRCA1/2 testing doubled. Women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations have a 45-60% increased riskof developing cancer compared to 12% in women without the gene mutation. However, just because you have the gene mutation does not mean you will develop breast cancer. Only 5-10% of all breast cancer cases are due to BRCA mutations. Over 90% of breast cancer cases are caused by something else. Even with all the research that has been done on cancer, we still do not know how or why some people develop cancer and others do not.
The doctors at Live Well Clinic believe in empowering women through education and knowledge by protecting themselves through regular breast exams.
Dr. Sonja Fung is a naturopathic doctor at the Live Well Clinic with a focus on integrative oncology. She not only works towards the prevention of cancer, but offers cutting-edge, complementary approaches to support women and men who currently have cancer.
For more information call us at 760-771-5970. Live Happy, Live Well.