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Breast Cancer Risks - Oncology

These are just a few of the risks that doctors say can increase your chances of breast cancer. “Having a primary relative with breast cancer, having multiple previous breast biopsies, and abnormal mammograms,” said Dr. Lea Blackwell, a breast surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health. But there are some risks that aren’t as well known. “The early age of starting your period, the late age of menopause, not having a baby before the age of 30,” Dr. Blackwell says all can put you at risk for developing breast cancer. For patients who have been diagnosed and undergone a mastectomy, doctors say there’s still a five percent chance the cancer can come back. “I let them know that they’re not eliminating the risk of reoccurrence by having a mastectomy,” said Dr. Blackwell. Living a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk for developing breast cancer. “We know that physical activity makes a difference and we know that breastfeeding makes a difference, but most people aren’t really aware that nutrition can play a role in that too,” said Jeanne Struve, a clinical dietitian with Lee Health. Maintaining a healthy weight and limiting alcohol can also put the odds in your favor. “The more alcohol you consume, the more increased risk of not just breast cancer, but all cancer. When you have higher intakes of alcohol you have lower methyl folate, and that means less elimination of carcinogens and a decreased ability for your body to repair damaged cells,” said Struve. Doctors also encourage women to do self-breast exams and get yearly mammograms after the age of 40. “ think there’s some hesitation of people to get a mammography because they think they are going to get a lot of radiation exposure and it’s really a very low amount of radiation exposure from mammographies. It’s a very safe option,” said Dr. Blackwell. Mammograms can help find tumors that you can’t see or feel—allowing doctors to catch the breast cancer early. Knowing your risks can help you take preventative measures to protect your health. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit