How knowing your risk can help you get ahead of breast cancer

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AUSTIN (KXAN)– In commemoration of October being breast cancer awareness month, Dr. Julie Sprunt joins KXAN’s Jacqulyn Powell to talk about breast cancer and how women can prepare to deal with it.

While breast cancer deaths have reduced by 40 percent in the U.S., it is still expected that nearly 250,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

Dr. Sprunt advises that looking at these numbers it is important for women to know their risks. She says while having a family history of breast cancer increases your chances, about 85 percent of women diagnosed have no family history. But knowing your risks can help you get the right type of screening at the right time and will improve the likelihood of early detection.

The risk of breast cancer can be increased by factors that are controllable by you but also others that are not controllable such as gender and aging. “You can’t control your genetics or avoid getting older” Dr. Sprunt said. “But there are ways to be proactive about controlling your risk factors.” She says family history, genetics, race, being overweight and how long you breastfeed your baby, among other things, can increase your risk level.

Dr. Sprunt advises that women take action by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and excessive drinking and having a yearly mammogram . She says these will help to combat those risk factors.

She says in addition to mammograms, women can employ self examinations and breast ultrasounds. Taking action earlier can help with early detection and a better chance of successfully treatment.

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