What Should You Do After 40? Breast Cancer Screenings & Prevention

  • Women's Health
  • breast cancer
  • January 28, 2021

Read Time: 7 minutes After the age of 40, a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases. Getting regular mammogram screenings is essential for prevention.

Risk Increases With Age

About 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer at some point in a lifetime. Risk increases with age. By the time a woman reaches the age of 40, the probability of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1 in 69. Although individual risk factors vary, women should take preventative measures against breast cancer. These include a series of screenings and other prevention.

ViralMD Connect What Should You Do After 40 Breast Cancer Screenings Prevention

Why are screenings important?

Screenings are tests that check for signs of breast cancer before symptoms are noticeable. Getting regular screenings increases a woman’s chance of detecting breast cancer early. When caught early, the disease is easier to treat.

What tests do I need?

Typically, women do not need to start getting mammograms until the age of 50. In some cases, however, doctors will recommend that women begin screening mammograms in the 40s. Women who should consider early screening include those with a strong family history of cancer and those who have inherited changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

What happens during a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Regular mammograms can catch signs of breast cancer up to 3 years sooner than a woman would start noticing symptoms of the disease. During a mammogram appointment, women stand in front of a special x-ray machine. The breast is slightly compressed in the machine to get an accurate picture from all angles.

Tips for a more comfortable mammogram

Many women find mammograms uncomfortable and even painful. There are some ways to make the experience more comfortable. Avoid scheduling mammograms the week before or during the menstrual cycle, as the breasts are usually more tender at this time of the month. On the day of the mammogram, don’t wear deodorant, perfume, or powder, as these can show up as misleading spots on the x-ray.

Preventive measures

Maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle is an integral part of breast cancer prevention. Women should exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and eat a nutritious diet. Doctors also recommend limiting alcohol to no more than one drink per day. Women who have 2 drinks or more daily have a 50% higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who do not drink.

How do I know my risk?

A crucial part of maintaining overall health is scheduling regular appointments with an OB/GYN. These doctors can help women understand individualized risk factors and provide recommendations for breast cancer screenings. Women who have questions about breast cancer prevention should schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN.

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