Breast cancer prevention: Feel empowered with these prevention tips

1 out of 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  Is there more we can do besides an annual breast exam and mammogram?

USF Health breast surgeon Dr. Charles Cox shares his wealth of knowledge and best advice about breast cancer treatment in our exclusive USF Health Facebook Live series:

Proactive Lifestyle Changes
“Eating well and exercising on a regular basis are proactive things every woman can do. The impact is huge. If most women would walk 30 minutes a day, they could prevent the occurrence of breast cancer by 30%. And if you’ve had breast cancer, you can prevent a recurrence by 70%.“ Dr. Cox said. He also recommends women have a baseline mammogram at the age of 35 to 40, if there is not a significant family history.

Family History. What to do?
If you have a family history of breast cancer and you’re not sure when to start a mammogram, Dr. Cox recommends looking at your family tree, “You need to look at the youngest member of your family who had breast cancer and start your screening 10 years before that. If you had a mother who had breast cancer at 35, you would need to start (mammograms) at 25.”

Mom is a cancer patient, embracing her young daughter.

Awareness of Early Signs
Finding breast cancer early is the key to effective care. It’s important that women examine themselves and have an awareness of how their breasts appear normally. Self-breast exams should not replace regular screenings and mammograms. Typically, breast cancer is found by detection of a lump or mass. Due to the irregularity of the early signs of breast cancer, it’s best for women to have a physician who is trained in breast diseases evaluate their concerns. The American Cancer Society provides more early signs of breast cancer.

Good to Know – 15 Types of Breast Cancer
There is a range of severity in the 15 types of breast cancers; many can be treated early and effectively. Dr. Cox shared that, ”There are some types of breast cancers that are not as aggressive and found very early. There are introductory carcinomas, or insitu, that don’t generally spread and have a low rate of mortality. Triple negative breast cancers are more aggressive and they are found in different parts of the population of our society. Black women, for example have a much higher rate of triple negative breast cancers versus Hispanic and Caucasian women.”

Evolving Genetic and Genomic Testing
Dr. Cox said, “In the past, we utilized BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing. Now, with advances in genetic testing, we can screen every woman for 28 different genes that are actionable, meaning these genes are identified as having a higher than normal risk of developing breast cancer, 12% of women develop breast cancer.”
There are two types of testing for breast cancer: genomic and genetic. “Genetic tests identify when patients inherit mutations through their gene line. Genomic tests look at each tumor to determine which genes are turned on and off and if there is a major difference that can determine a high risk of recurrence and the possible need for further chemotherapy.”

For breast cancer prevention, Dr. Cox recommends women, “Embrace an exercise program, and regular screenings and mammograms.” To learn more, check out USF Health’s exclusive Facebook Live with Dr. Cox.

Written By: Kathleen Rogers

Quotes from Facebook Live with Dr. Cox, Hosted by: Lisa Balsera and Michelle Young