You can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by having healthy habits. Breast cancer screenings don’t prevent the disease, but can catch it early, when it’s easier to treat.
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What can I do to keep my breasts healthy?
Some breast cancer risks can’t be controlled, like your age or having a family history of breast cancer. But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
Stay at a healthy weight.
Make exercising a part of your life.
Don’t smoke cigarettes.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
Avoid chemicals that are linked to cancer. Some chemicals and harmful things around you in your daily life can affect your breasts. This includes some foods, makeup, plastics, and household products. Ask your doctor or nurse for more information.
If possible, breastfeed your baby.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor or nurse about breast cancer screenings. Though breast screenings can’t prevent cancer, they can help to find cancer earlier, when they are easier to treat.
How often should I get a breast cancer screening?
Getting regular breast cancer screenings is one of the most important things you can do to keep your breasts healthy. It’s important to follow your doctor or nurse’s recommendations for how often you should get a breast health check up.
Breast cancer screenings are based on both your age and your risk level. If you've never had breast or ovarian cancer and you don't have any relatives who've had either disease, it’s likely that your risk for breast cancer is average. You should:
Get to know what your breasts feel like and let your doctor or nurse know if you find a lump or notice any other changes.
Get a breast exam every 1 to 3 years in your 20s and 30s and then every year after you turn 40.
Get a mammogram every year after you turn 40.
If you’ve had breast or ovarian cancer or have a relative who’s had it, you might be at a higher risk. Talk to your doctor to find out how often you should have breast exams and mammograms. They may also recommend you get genetic counseling, which means meeting with someone who has special training to figure out your risk of getting breast cancer.