Is there anything I can do to control or even decrease the risk that I will get breast cancer?
Yes, there are strategies to take control of your breast cancer risk. Essentially there are two approaches to managing this risk: screening or prevention. These approaches have pros and cons.
Being Breast Aware
If you are at high risk of developing breast cancer, it can be helpful to be breast aware. Your breasts undergo many natural changes throughout your life. Being “breast aware” means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel, so you can notice any unusual changes. Some changes can indicate a benign (non-cancerous) breast condition, but there is a possibility it could be breast cancer. The sooner breast cancer is found, the earlier it can be treated.
Learn more about being breast aware.
Remember that the strategy you choose is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong choice. Two sisters in the same family with the same BRCA mutation might differ in how they choose to manage their risk, and that is OK.
You need to consider all your options before you decide which strategy is right for you. If you understand the pros and cons of each strategy before choosing one, it is more likely that you will feel satisfied with your decision.
taking control of your breast cancer risk
After learning you carry a BRCA gene mutation, your options are…
Screening options can help detect breast cancer at an early stage.
Learn more about screening.
The preventive measures listed below can help prevent breast cancer from developing
Prophylactic mastectomy is a risk-reducing surgery to remove your breast tissue before cancer can develop.
Prophylactic oophorectomy is a risk-reducing surgery to remove your ovaries. Some studies have shown that having your ovaries removed before menopause reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Learn more about risk-reducing surgery.
Some medications are also effective at reducing breast cancer risk in high-risk women.
Learn more about preventive medications.
making decisions about risk management
Farah talks about how hard it was to make decisions
making tough decisions
There is no right decision for everyone. However, it is always helpful to consider all your risk management options when you are making your decision. Work through your decision at your own pace. Make sure you understand your options and have all the information you need. This will help you to feel confident and satisfied with your decision. It’s also important to talk about your options with your doctors, as well as your family. Your genetic counsellor can answer your questions and provide you with information when you receive your genetic test results, as well as in the months and years following.
Keep in mind that you may change your mind about your risk management strategy. You might choose screening now, but in a few years you might consider risk-reducing surgery.
Learn about ways to manage your breast cancer risk through screening, risk-reducing surgery, and other treatments.
Screening methods can help detect breast cancer at an early stage, before any symptoms have developed. If cancer is detected at an early stage, there is a better chance of treating it successfully.
Risk-reducing surgery to remove your breast tissue greatly decreases the risk of developing breast cancer.
If you are considering risk-reducing surgery, you may also want to learn about breast reconstruction.
Some medications reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. All medications have side effects. You doctor can tell you what medications are best for you.