For most women, the idea of developing breast cancer is scary. But it doesn’t have to be.
Dr. Victoria Seewaldt is a leader of the breast and ovarian cancer program at Duke University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. And here are a few things she says you may not know about the disease, but should. Both to help fight it - and to ease your mind.
For starters: Active women are less likely to develop and die from breast cancer. This is one of the most important tips to keep in mind. Regular exercise has consistently been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Any type of exercise is likely to help by lowering estrogen levels - which is what reduces your risk. Also, a recent study from the University of South Carolina suggests women who do aerobics regularly have a 55 percent lower chance of dying from breast cancer than their less-fit peers. So get moving.
Next tip: Pain isn’t usually a sign of breast cancer. If you have pain in one or both breasts, don’t panic. The pain is probably due to hormonal changes, a benign cyst, a ligament strain or other condition. More common warning signs of breast cancer include an obvious lump, a change in the size or shape of the breast, puckering of the skin, or an increase in skin temperature. These are all changes you should bring to your doctor’s attention ASAP.
And one last fact you should know about breast cancer: A family history doesn’t mean you’ll get it. Only about 20 to 30 percent of people who develop breast cancer have a family history of the disease. And keep this in mind: If it’s caught early, breast cancer has more than a 90 percent survival rate in the United States.