Monday, October 17, 2011

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Prevent Breast Cancer?

“Is breast cancer preventable? What are some things that I can do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?”

Nurse Practitioner Gina Lafountain Responds:

As a breast cancer survivor with no known family history of breast cancer, the answer is no. You can reduce your risk, but there is no way to absolutely prevent it.

Living a healthy lifestyle will help. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise and don’t smoke. These lifestyle changes will also reduce your risk of other diseases, such as heart disease.

To be proactive, get yearly check-ups from your primary care physician and yearly mammograms (mammogram locations) after the age of 40, sooner if you have a family history of breast cancer. And perform self breast exams monthly.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, I would recommend getting genetically tested for the BRCA gene that can put you at an increase risk for developing breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute reports that if you have inherited a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, your risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer at an early age is increased.

The test requires a blood sample, which can be taken in a doctor’s office, laboratory, hospital or clinic. You will need an order from your physician and usually pre-authorization from your insurance company.

– Gina Lafountain, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Program Director of HeartStrong

Gina Lafountain, NP, MSN has over 20 years of healthcare experience and is currently the Director of the HeartStrong program for continuing care. HeartStrong allows heart failure patients to rebuild their strength and endurance and learn how to better manage their cardiac diseases before they return home.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

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