Beating breast cancer begins at home

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breast cancer continues to be one of the most common cancers affecting women and men in the United States, and beating the disease begins at home.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, and about 2,140 new cases will be diagnosed in men.

Breast self-awareness is key in detecting breast cancer, according to LaKenzise Mayberry, mission programs coordinator of North Central Alabama Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Aspects of breast self-awareness include knowing personal risks, getting screened, knowing oneself physically and making healthy lifestyle choices.

“We encourage everyone to know their risks,” Mayberry said. “One of the most important things they can do is know family health history.”

Another important step is getting screened regularly by a doctor and sharing family history with him or her.

For women with average risk of developing breast cancer, clinical breast exams are recommended each year beginning at age 20, and mammograms are recommended beginning at age 40.

“The breast self-exam is not a screening,” Mayberry said. “It’s a tool.”

Making healthy lifestyle choices is another preventative measure which entails exercising at least 30 minutes five days a week, limiting alcohol intake, eating a healthy and balanced diet and learning how to manage or avoid stress.

“We believe that doing all those things in combination will put a woman in the best position to detect breast cancer early when it’s most treatable,” Mayberry said.

If an individual is diagnosed with breast cancer, Mayberry said gathering information and building a support system can help during the treatment process.

“One of the most efficient ways of fighting this disease is having those shoulders to lean on,” Mayberry said. “Sometimes, the emotional toll of the disease can be as bad as the physical toll.”

For more information on breast cancer, call 1-877-GO-KOMEN or visit