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    Tips for early detection & prevention of breast cancer

Dear Ate Anna,

Last Sunday, I participated in the Run for the Cure. I ran for my mother. She is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was fifty-two years old. The whole family was devastated when we got this news. My mother was lucky that the cancer was caught early, during her yearly check-up. Now, after going through some treatments, she is healthy. My dream is that no more families will go through the pain of seeing their loved ones die from breast cancer. Ate Anna, can you tell readers how women can prevent breast cancer?


Dear Francisco,

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Francisco, it is true that finding breast cancer early can save a woman’s life. As a woman gets older, her chances of getting breast cancer increase. Even though age is a factor that a woman can’t control, there are some steps she can take toward prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

Tips for early detection

Know what is normal for your breasts.

Look for anything unusual in each breast, for example:

a lump in the breast; a lump or swelling in the armpit
unusual increase in the size of one breast; change in shape or colour of the breast
discharge from the nipple (clear or bloody)
thickened hard skin
skin changes, including any changes to the nipple

These signs do not necessarily mean a woman has cancer, but it is important to see a doctor and check it out.

Have a Mammogram

If you are 50 years old or over, go for a breast X-ray (mammogram) every 2 years.

Get a regular clinical breast examination by a trained health professional

If you are over 40 years old, have a clinical breast examination at least every 2 years. Women who have a family history of breast cancer or other risks of developing breast cancer should consult their doctors about when and how often to be examined and screened.

Tips for breast cancer prevention:

Maintain a healthy weight

Experts say that there is a clear link between obesity (weighing more than is appropriate for one’s age and height) and breast cancer – especially if the weight is gained later in life and particularly after menopause.

Exercise regularly

Staying active can help maintain a healthy body weight. Regular exercise may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Try 30 minutes of exercise on most days. It’s easy to stay active. Take a walk once a day; take the stairs instead of the elevator; spend less time in front of the television or computer; swim, cycle jog, do aerobics, etc.

Eat healthy

Healthy eating can help prevent breast cancer. Choose a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. As well, limiting fat in the diet will help a person maintain a healthy weight.

Limit alcohol consumption

There is a link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Consider limiting alcohol to less than one drink a day or avoid alcohol completely.

Francisco, Ate Anna also hopes that one day your dream will come true – that no family will suffer the loss of a family member to breast cancer. For the time being, you can be a big help by spreading the word to the community, especially to women, about the importance of breast cancer prevention and early detection.

Take care

Ate Anna

Ate Anna Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200 – 226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 1V4 or e-mail:


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