Tools to help you measure your risk of breast cancerThough the causes of breast cancer are still being sought, researchers have come up with a list of risk factors associated with breast cancer as well as tools to help women assess their lifestyle and risks.
Understanding Breast Cancer Risk ToolThe National Cancer Institute has an Understanding Breast Cancer Risk Tool (http://understandingrisk.cancer.gov/a_Breast/02.cfm) that gives you a list of known risk factors, questions to help you determine if the risk factors apply to you and gives you the ability to print your list so you can refer to it (also an important list to take to your doctor to further discuss).
Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Action ToolAs an adjunct tool, the National Cancer Institute also has a Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Action Tool (http://understandingrisk.cancer.gov/a_Breast/03.cfm) that lists known risk cancers and ways you can reduce those risks if they apply to you. You can also print out these results to discuss with your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctorTalking to your doctor about breast cancer can feel too personal, you might be embarrassed, or you may be one of those women who think it can't happen to you. Regardless of your reservations, make an appointment with your doctor and talk about your breast cancer risks as well as an action plan to reduce them.
Here are the questions to ask, as recommended by the National Cancer Institute:
Breast Cancer Risk Assessment ToolAnother helpful tool – that is more geared towards your health care provider – is the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, a computer program developed by scientists at the National Cancer Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) to assist health care providers in discussing a woman's risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
What is your risk of breast cancer?Though researchers have identified risk factors which influence a woman's chance of getting breast cancer, keep in mind that many women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors other than growing older, and many women with many known risk factors do not ever develop breast cancer. Your best defense is to do self-checks and get regular clinical screenings and mammograms, and be aware of – and work to reduce – the risk factors you have in your life. You have the tools, now it is up to you to use them.
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