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Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?

In most diseases, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But in breast cancer, we still don't have proven preventive strategies. A recent study even countered the theory that a low fat diet reduces breast cancer risk. The best preventive advice we have is to maintain a healthy weight, don't smoke, and limit alcohol.

According to Nancy Brinker of the Susan Komen Foundation, "The Komen Foundation and our Race for the Cure has done much to raise Breast cancer awareness throughout the United States, and add much needed funding for research. But with all that, we still don't know how to prevent it."

The best weapon against breast cancer remains early detection. All women over 18 should perform monthly breast self exams, have annual breast exams by their health care provider, and have annual mammograms at age 40. There are also other tests that can help evaluate breast masses, such as ultrasound or MRI. These tools may eliminate the need for a biopsy or make a biopsy much more reliable when performed together.

Women with a close family history of breast cancer should talk to their doctors about tamoxifen, a drug that is approved to prevent as well as treat breast cancer.

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Created: 10/6/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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