Dr. Janette: Knowing Your Body Can Help Protect You From Breast Cancer

Published 04/24 2014 08:53PM

Updated 04/24 2014 09:24PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The death rate for breast cancer is the highest of all cancers, behind lung cancer.

What you need to know to reduce your risk of breast cancer can save your life.

Other than skin cancer, it's the most common cancer in women and thousands die from it each year.

Knowing your body and your baseline can help protect you. But even so, discovering you have breast cancer is shocking and can be life changing, as it was for young mom, Deborah Stuart.

“I was shocked,” Stuart says. “I mean I was shocked. When you hear the words you have cancer it just changes your life. I just thought I am so young so how can this be happening to me?”

Risk Factors for breast cancer include female gender and older age, but even men can develop breast cancer.

Other Risk factors include a history of breast or ovarian cancer, a positive family history, genetics, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, and having no children are also risk factors for breast cancer.

"I thought this could be suspicious and I got it checked out immediately,” says Stuart.

Approximately 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends women should have a screening mammogram starting at age 40.

Women in their 20s and 30s, if no risk factors exist, should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years.

After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.

"Luckily for me I caught it so early that I was very hopeful and the doctors were very positive about making a full recovery, which I did,” says Stuart.

Listen to your body; take note of changes that are happening in your body. Breast exams are strongly recommended.

Be sure to see your health care provider for routine screening because for many patients, with early detection and treatment, you can live healthy and stay strong.

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