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Breast Cancer: Prevention & Early Detection


Breast cancer accounts for about 30 percent of new cancer diagnoses in women. However, there are steps you can take to diagnose it early in its most treatable stages. In some cases, preventative strategies may help women lower their risk of developing certain forms of the disease.

As we’re committed to your health and well-being, Dignity Health offers complete cancer care, including cancer screenings, to prevent breast cancer. Schedule a mammogram near you.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Certain factors can increase your risk of breast cancer. They include:

  • Female gender
  • Age — risk increases with age
  • Caucasian race
  • Breast conditions, such as dense breast tissue
  • Diethylstilbestrol exposure
  • Early menstruation (younger than 12)
  • Late menopause (older than 55)
  • History of breast cancer, either your own or within your family
  • Gene mutations — five to 10 percent of breast cancers are related to mutations in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
  • Previous chest radiation therapy
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol

Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer

You can help prevent breast cancer by making lifestyle changes to eliminate certain risk factors. To lower your risk of breast cancer, your Dignity Health doctor will encourage you to maintain a healthy weight, get regular exercise, and drink alcohol in moderation. However, even with a healthy lifestyle, breast cancer can still occur.

Screening exams help our doctors detect breast cancer before you have symptoms. For example, you may have a clinical breast exam during a regular checkup. Your doctor will visually check your breasts and underarms to inspect for lumps or other changes in the breast tissue. You may also need a mammogram, which is a low-dose X-ray that produces an image of your breast. Screening mammograms are the most effective tool for finding breast cancer early. Schedule yours today.

If you are at a high risk for breast cancer, prevention strategies may include chemoprevention, medications to block the effect of estrogen on breast tissue, or mastectomy, surgery to remove the breasts.

Talk to your doctor to see if a breast cancer screening is right for your care.

Dignity Health provides complete breast cancer prevention and early detection in San FranciscoSanta Cruz, and Redwood City.