Breast Cancer: Know Your Risk, Catch it Early

Breast cancer awareness ribbon pink background

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 9 women will be affected by breast cancer in her life. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women. Here at Home to Home, we’ve put together some information on breast cancer to help you know your risk, catch it early, and take preventive steps.

Know Your Risk

Knowing your risk can help you with early detection and make changes earlier on in your lifetime to mitigate risk. There are two types of risks – ones that you can’t control, and ones that are associated with lifestyle factors that you can control. The ones that are not within your control but still worth knowing about include:

Older age: The older you get, the more your risk increases for being diagnosed with breast cancer. Most women diagnosed are over the age of 50.

History of Breast Cancer: If you have one or more family members with breast cancer, you are at an increased risk.

History of Benign Breast Conditions: If you have previously developed a non -malignant breast condition such as a cyst you may be more at risk of developing breast cancer later on.

In addition to the above, there are lifestyle choices within your control that can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer (and probably other forms of cancer as well). These include not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight.

Catch it Early

The goal of screening tests, or mammograms, is to find something before it causes symptoms (like a large enough lump to be felt). It is recommended that women of average risk over the age of 50 should be getting screen once every 2 -3 years. Women with an elevated risk, (i.e. having a family history), should consult their doctor on how to best screen for potential breast cancer.

In between mammograms, breast examinations at home can also be performed as often as once a month. For instructions, please visit:

Early Prevention

As mentioned above, body weight and physical exercise have shown to be linked with breast cancer. Additionally, lowering your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are both key in lowering your risk – and increasing your overall health in general.

If you are at an elevated risk, your doctor can inform you about additional precautions. If you have a family member diagnosed with breast cancer with a confirmed BRCA mutation (a genetic mutation linked with breast cancer), you may be eligible for genetic testing yourself. This can give you early information on how best to manage your risk.

Although we can’t control for all factors in breast cancer, we can control our lifestyle. Knowing your risk, early detection, and making smarter choices can reduce your risk.