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According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Massachusetts between 2007 and 2011. Catching it early makes a big difference — between 2004 and 2010, the five-year survival rate of women who were diagnosed in the early stages of the disease was 98.5 percent.

DPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide three ways you and your loved ones can take preventative measures against breast cancer.

Find Out if You Are at Risk

There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing breast cancer, such as:

  • A family history of the disease
  • Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
  • Drinking alcohol

However, you can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by looking after your health, including:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Avoiding exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer, known as carcinogens

Get a Mammogram

Generally, women should have mammograms every two years from ages 50–74. During a mammogram, your doctor takes an x-ray of your breasts to look for early signs of cancer. In certain cases, your doctor may recommend you get screened more frequently or before age 50. Talk to your doctor about breast cancer screenings to figure out what the best option is for you.

Know the Symptoms

Make sure you learn the symptoms of breast cancer. Symptoms can include:

  • A new lump in the breast or armpit
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Pain in the nipple area or breast

If you are concerned about potential symptoms, talk to your doctor. Keep in mind that some people don’t experience any symptoms, so it’s important to keep up with screening regardless.

By taking the steps listed above, you can ensure you are well informed about breast cancer and your own breast health.

Tweet @MassGov or comment below with any questions about breast cancer awareness and breast health.

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