Keeping Cancer at Arm’s-Length
Prevention & Treatment In a world where everyone from congress to special interest groups has something to say about women’s health issues, it is more important than ever for women to be educated, speak up, and be their own best advocates.
Of the 52 million young women in the United States, 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer—the leading cancer diagnosis in women—and 1 in 75 with ovarian cancer. But when detected early, the 5-year survival rate for these diseases is greater than 92 percent. In light of these odds, being proactive is critical. The good news is there are things we can do today to lay the groundwork for a healthy tomorrow.
Know your risk
Breast and ovarian cancer risk is determined by both family health history and lifestyle factors. At your next exam, initiate a conversation to help determine your risk level and work with your health care provider to develop a risk management plan that is right for you.
Knowing the normal look and feel of your body and monitoring it over time will help you recognize anything concerning or abnormal. If something doesn’t feel right, always speak up to your doctor.
Certain lifestyle factors can actually decrease your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Maintaining a healthy BMI and exercising regularly are key factors in reducing your breast cancer risk.
Other risk-reduction measures can include limiting fat intake, red meat and alcohol. When it comes to ovarian cancer, it is important to know that taking oral contraceptives for 5 years in your 20s and 30s can decrease risk by up to 50 percent—that is significant.
At this pivotal time, we all have the power to be proactive advocates for our own health, and that is something I hope all women find truly empowering.