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Breast cancer prevention: How you can reduce your risk of breast cancer

You can improve your odds against breast cancer.

A healthy diet and exercise give you a fighting chance. And so do yearly checkups and certain tests and screenings.

Early detection is key

Your routine mammogram could be one of the most important selfies you’ll ever take. It can spot potential problems sooner, giving you more treatment options. Know the guidelines and the steps you can take to live healthy.

Screening can save lives*

The type and frequency of breast cancer screening that is best for you changes as you age. If you have a high risk for developing breast cancer, talk to your doctor about when to begin having routine mammograms and other screening tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Prevention can save your life. Breast cancer screening guidelines for women at average risk for breast cancer generally recommend the following:

Who should be screened? Women ages 40 - 54

When and how often? Talk with your doctor about when to start mammograms and how often to get them. At age 40, it is important for you to talk to your doctor before you decide when and how often to have mammograms. Many doctors recommend that women start screening at age 45 with a mammogram every year until age 54.

Who should be screened? Women ages 55 - 74

When and how often? Get mammograms every 2 years. Talk with your doctor to decide if you need one more often. At age 55, women should switch to having a mammogram every 2 years. This can continue as long as their health is good and they are expected to live 10 or more years. The risk of breast cancer increases with age, and the age at which testing no longer helps reduce death from breast cancer is not known.

If you are 75 or older, talk to your doctor about mammography as a regular part of your health care plan.

It’s a good idea to ask your doctor about office exam visits, as well. Many doctors recommend a yearly exam. 

Reduce your risk

Simple life changes can help reduce the risk of cancer to enjoy better health:

  • Watch your weight. It’s important to stay at the right body weight for your height and age. Less fat means lower estrogen levels and lower cancer risk.
  • Exercise regularly. Working out helps lower body fat. Less fat means less risk. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. One hour a day can help lower breast cancer risk by 20 percent. Walk, run, bike, go to the gym – it all counts.
  • Cut back on alcohol. Limit alcohol to 2 to 3 drinks per week.
  • Don’t smoke.  Smoking cigarettes raises your risk. If you are a smoker, think about getting help to stop.
  • Get screened. Have an annual preventative screening exam.*

Further reading and information

Count on us for support

Simple lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions, including cancer. Register or login to the Health Hub to contact the CARE team

At Aetna International, we believe in helping people on the path to better health.

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* Plan features and availability may vary by location and group size. Not all health services are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features are subject to change. 

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