Cancer is one of the many diseases that’s a constant threat to society today. But the one at the front of everyone’s mind lately is breast cancer.
Angelina Jolie is known far and wide for her beauty and acting abilities, but more recently she has taken the spot light with the news of her decision to get a preventive double mastectomy. Jolie was tested for a rare mutant gene, BRCA1, which drastically increases the chances for getting breast cancer.
Due to Jolie’s discovery, she made the brave decision to cut down the risk of breast cancer by removing her breasts. But, this has caused many women to ask the question, “am I at risk? Should I get this test?”
Before anyone jumps the gun and rushes out to go get the test to discover the BRCA1 gene, you should know it’s quite pricey— $3,000 according to a New York Times article on Jolie. There are other preventive methods that women can take.
Breast cancer affects almost everyone in the world in one way or another. Whether it’s you or a family member diagnosed with the disease, its victims are not limited to just women. Men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer — just look up former Cleveland Browns fullback, Ernie Green. It is important for everyone to be educated on their level of risk for the disease.
The first thing to do is to explore your family history. While a family history of breast cancer isn’t always a guarantee diagnoses, it can be a good starting point. A Plan Parenthood nurse once told me that a good rule of thumb is to start getting a mammogram 10 years earlier than the age that your family member was diagnosed.
The second precaution a person can take is performing self-breast exams. There are many sources online that demonstrate how to perform a self-breast exam, making it easy and accessible for just about everyone.
Self-breast exams are by no means a way to locate all tumors and abnormalities, but it’s a good way to know what is normal for your breast. This way, if anything out of the ordinary does occur, the chances of you recognizing something out of the ordinary will increase.
The third, and simplest, thing you can do to be aware of your breast cancer risk is just talking to your doctor. Doctors, especially ones who know you well, can discuss all your options to determine your risk level. This is their job, meaning they are used to any and all questions you may have.
As the medical world progresses, more and more of these types of test will appear. With the ability to determine what ailments may affect us in the future may be helpful, it is important to look all the prevention methods before making any drastic decisions. So while Jolie’s sacrifice was brave, there are other ways that everyday people can take to know how at risk they actually are.