About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women in the United States. When you are diagnosed with cancer, it means that you have abnormal masses of cells that are growing uncontrollably and damaging healthy tissue.
Although rates of cancer death have decreased over time, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death among women. The good news is that screenings and other prevention tools allow us to catch cancer early, when it’s easier to treat.
How can I prevent breast cancer?
There is no single way to prevent breast cancer. However, there are many factors that affect your overall breast cancer risk. Some factors are unchangeable, such as your genetics or family history. Others are modifiable risk factors, such as eating healthy and exercising consistently.
The gold-standard screening tool for breast cancer is the mammogram. A mammogram involves taking X-ray images of your breast tissue. With this tool, we can detect abnormal masses that might indicate cancer. At Adventist Health St. Helena, we provide advanced tools for breast cancer risk reduction and early detection.
What do I need to know about breast cancer risk factors?
One of the best steps you can take for your health is to speak with your primary care provider about your health risks. For example, if a close family member such as a mother or sister has had breast cancer, your doctor may advise starting screening mammograms earlier than usual.
Other risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Growing older. The majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50. That’s why national guidelines recommend that women start screening mammograms between ages 40 to 45, depending on her personal risk profile.
- Genetic mutations. Gene mutations (changes) can increase cancer risk. For example, women who have changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have an increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancers.
- Reproductive health and history. Women who get pregnant for the first time after age 30 or who don’t breastfeed have higher risks for breast cancer. Getting your period before age 12 and entering menopause after age 55 also increase your risk.
- Lifestyle factors. There are some risk factors that you can control. For example, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol intake can all lower your breast cancer risks.
Your healthcare provider can give you personalized guidance for breast cancer screenings. At the Breast Center, we offer advanced tools for both breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Comprehensive care at the Breast Center
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. At Adventist Health St. Helena, our specialists use a compassionate, patient-centered approach to care. Our breast patient navigator acts as your support person, educational resource and care coordinator.
When you have any health diagnosis, you also want to choose a place where you can receive the very best care. We use a full range of advanced treatment and surgery techniques. Our specialists work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that spares as much breast tissue as possible while removing cancer.
To learn more about the Breast Center at Adventist Health St. Helena, please call (707) 963-1912.