1. Learn about your family history of cancer and share it with your doctors.
Know that you can inherit the BRCA gene mutation from both sides of your family, not just your mother’s side. It can be hard to talk about cancer. The CDC recommends starting the conversation by sharing that you’ve discovered that certain cancers can run in families—and that you’d like to create a record of your family’s medical history to help your family now—and in the future. Get as much info as you can—relation, age of diagnosis, and type of cancer.
2. Ask if genetic testing is right for you.
Depending on the information you obtain from your family’s medical history, you and your doctor may decide to opt for genetic testing. This is usually for women who have a family medical history which includes certain patterns of cancer. The genetic testing with help you learn if your family history of breast cancer is due to an inherited gene mutation.
3. Maintain healthy lifestyle choices.
By actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle, you are placing yourself at a much better advantage. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active and breastfeeding your babies are a few ways women can decrease their risk of cancer.
4. Regularly check yourself
Early detection saves lives. In women younger than 50, more than 70% of cases of breast cancer are found by the women themselves—as are almost half of all cases in women 50 or older. It’s still important to get a regular mammogram once you’ve over the age of 40, but give yourself a little check in the shower once a month. You know your body better than anyone.