In women, almost a third of all new cancer diagnoses are breast cancer. The death rate for breast cancer is falling every year, but it still claims the lives of more women than any other cancer besides lung cancer. Luckily, recommended screenings for women can help find breast cancer in its most treatable stages. Some women may also be able to take advantage of preventive strategies.
Cancer is one of the scariest words you can hear. That's why at Dignity Health Southern California hospitals, located in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino, our doctors and staff are committed to helping women detect breast cancer as early as possible and then treating it aggressively with the latest therapies. To learn more about breast cancer prevention in Southern California, Find a Doctor at one of our hospitals near you.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Doctors have identified a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing breast cancer, including:
- Gender — women are much more likely to have breast cancer than men
- Caucasian race
- Age — risk increases with age
- Gene mutations — five to ten percent of breast cancers are related to mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
- Personal or family history of breast cancer
- Late menopause (older than 55) or early menstruation (younger than 12)
- Diethylstilbestrol exposure
- Chest radiation therapy in the past
- Breast conditions, including dense breast tissue
- Lifestyle factors, including consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, not exercising, or being overweight
Mammograms & Breast Cancer Prevention at Dignity Health Southern California Hospitals
Screening exams offer the best chance for early detection of breast cancer. Often, they can find a tumor before you have any obvious symptoms. Common screening exams at Dignity Health Southern California include:
- Clinical breast exam, a physical exam during your yearly checkup. Your doctor will visually inspect your breasts, and feel your underarms and breasts to check for changes in texture or lumps.
- Mammograms, a type of low-dose X-ray that produces an image of your breast. Screening mammograms are the most effective tool for early detection of breast cancer.
Some breast cancer risk factors are under your control. They include drinking alcohol in moderation, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Even if you take these measures, you may still develop breast cancer.
If you are at a very high risk for breast cancer, your doctor may recommend:
- Mastectomy. Removing the breasts reduces the risk of breast cancer by up to 97 percent.
- Chemoprevention. Certain medications, such as raloxifene (Evista) and tamoxifen (Nolvadex), can reduce your risk by blocking the effects of estrogen on breast tissue.
Are you concerned about your risk for developing breast cancer? Talk to your Dignity Health doctor about what screenings they recommend to prevent breast cancer.
Dignity Health offers screening and services for breast cancer prevention in Southern California.