October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an important time to shed light on the risks senior women face when it comes to this invasive form of cancer. Did you know it’s the second most common type of cancer among women? And that women over the age of 70 are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer? Our long-term care team has compiled a list of breast cancer risks for older women and different ways to lower those risks.
Genetic and Lifestyle Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
Risk factors for breast cancer can be categorized in two ways: Genetic and Lifestyle. Genetic risk factors are ones you can’t change because they have to do with your gender, age, race, and family history. On the other hand, lifestyle risk factors can be changed because you can always change your habits and the environment you choose to be in. Here are some examples of each risk type, as well as some ways to lower your risk (if possible):
Genetic Risk Factors:
- This is one of the most significant risk factors because 2 out of 3 women diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer receive their diagnosis after the age of 55. While you can’t change your age, you can change how often you screen for breast cancer. Early detection is key. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99% when breast cancer is found and diagnosed in the early stages. Some ways you can be proactive in detecting breast cancer early is through monthly self-checks and scheduling regular mammograms.
- Gender and Race. Statistically, women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men – and Caucasian women in the particular contract it more than women of other races.
- Family History. If your parents or siblings have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, your risk of contracting breast cancer in the future is higher.
- Menstrual and Reproductive History. Whether or not you have given birth or have taken birth control pills affects your risk level. For example, having your first child at an older age increases your risk. Not giving birth at all also increases your risk. The age at which you had your first menstruation, as well as the age you entered menopause also affects your chances of contracting this form of cancer.
- Gene Mutations. Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, put you at a higher risk for breast cancer. It’s important to do genetic testing to find out if you have this gene mutation, as it can be passed onto your children.
- Dense Breast Tissue. Having breast tissue that is denser makes it harder to detect lumps. If you are planning to have a mammogram done soon, make sure to ask your doctor to disclose whether or not you have denser breast tissue. This will help you to be more proactive in checking for breast cancer.
Lifestyle Risk Factors:
- Little to No Exercise. A more sedentary lifestyle puts you at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Fortunately, women who prioritize working out on a regular basis are able to decrease their chances by up to 20%! If you are currently residing in an independent living community, make sure to ask a director onsite about weekly exercise classes or other physical activities like nature walks.
- Overconsumption of Alcohol. To be frank, the more alcohol you consume, the higher the risk. Senior women who have 2-3 drinks per day have increased their risk by approximately 20%. Cutting back or cutting alcohol out of your diet completely will reduce the risk. Try to replace the drink with something that is equally exciting for you to drink, like a nice hot cup of coffee or specialty tea.
- Eating Unhealthily. Senior women who have a diet that consists of a lot of saturated fats and little to no fruits and vegetables are at a higher risk. One way to improve your diet is to opt for meal preparation or dining services in your assisted living community. Chefs in the senior living realm are used to making modifications to recipes in order to satisfy low carb, low fat, and low sugar preferences.
Long term care for seniors in Camden County
At UMC at Collingswood, a medical professional is available on-site 24/7 in case of emergency, and to closely monitor and make modifications to treatment plans as needed, or to refer residents to qualified medical specialists.
Further good news is that if you live at UMC at Collingswood and your needs increase, you don’t have to move. Our community is equipped to deal with almost anything in our long-term care neighbourhoods, including post-operative wounds, stroke, injuries, diabetes, certain types of cancers, and more. Whatever medical condition your senior loved one has, the long-term care team in Collingswood is prepared to treat them with the utmost attention, compassion, and respect for their quality of life.
To find out more about long-term care in Camden County, NJ, please contact us today or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/collingswood/
This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/collingswood/blog/breast-cancer-risks-for-senior-women/