Women improving their odds of staying cancer free

9 Against Breast Cancer

CINCINNATI - If you have a family history, or had your first child after the age of 30, you are at a higher risk for breast cancer.  Women who fall into the high risk category could improve their odds of staying cancer free by taking preventive breast cancer medication.

Currently women are being treated with chemoprevention drugs and therapies.  The FDA has approved the use of tamoxifen and raloxifene, also known as Evista, to be used as preventative medications for breast cancer patients at high risk.

We talked to Dr. Mohammaed Charif at the UC Health Barrett Cancer Center about preventative medicines today.  "If you think you have an increased risk for Breast Cancer it is a good idea to speak to your primary care physician or breast oncologist to see what ways are available to try to reduce your risk."

Dr. Charif warns that these drugs could have harmful side effects that include blood clots, uterine cancer, cataracts or stroke.

American Cancer Breast Cancer Risk Factors:

Family history of breast cancer:  Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease.  Having one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman's risk.  Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk about 3-fold. The exact risk is not known, but women with a family history of breast cancer in a father or brother also have an increased risk of breast cancer.  Altogether, less than 15% of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease.  This means that most (over 85%) women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease.

Personal history of breast cancer:  A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a recurrence (return) of the first cancer.

Race and ethnicity:  Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. However, in women under 45 years of age, breast cancer is more common in African- American women. Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.

The National Cancer Institute has a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Calculator.

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