October 2, 2014
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Breast Cancer

 Health Home >> Breast Cancer >> Prevention of Breast Cancer 


Surgery, hormonal treatment, and lifestyle changes

Surgery

Deciding to have your breasts removed (prophylactic mastectomy) to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer is a very difficult decision due to the psychological and physical consequences associated with the surgery. The surgery does not completely eliminate your chances of developing breast cancer because it is difficult to remove all of the breast tissue and lymph nodes.

Some women may also decide to remove their ovaries (oophorectomy) as well as their breasts to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer.

It is important to thoroughly discuss your options with your health care provider as well as a genetic counsellor due to the permanence of the surgeries.

Hormonal treatment

Therapy with medications, such as tamoxifen or raloxifene, is another option to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen and raloxifene have been shown to reduce the chances of breast cancer developing in post-menopausal women, and tamoxifen has also been shown to have some benefit for high-risk women who have not yet undergone menopause. However, these medications are also associated with side effects, which need to be taken into account when deciding whether or not this is an attractive option for you.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are important because they can decrease your risk of breast cancer. If you have breast cancer, lifestyle changes can help to slow the progression of breast cancer and reduce its recurrence.

  • Proper nutrition: A high-fibre diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat, can help decrease the risk of breast and other forms of cancers. Including a moderate amount of soy products, such as soybeans, soymilk, and tofu, may be associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer. Although a recent study suggested that low-fat diet alone may not reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight by following a low-fat diet does decrease breast cancer risk.
  • Limiting alcohol intake: Women should drink no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, up to a weekly maximum of nine drinks.
  • Exercise: Enjoying regular physical activity helps promote good health.
  • Stopping smoking: Tobacco is the single most important cause of cancer. Stopping cigarette smoking can help lower cancer risk.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: Postmenopausal women should avoid prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce the associated risk of breast cancer. For more information about HRT, consult your doctor.


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