Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. The most significant risk factors for breast cancer development are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). Women’s risk of breast cancer almost doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mentioned risk factors we cannot prevent and once you discover breast cancer, better to learn how quickly to rid of it and survive.
According to medical statistics about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. During last decade the frequency of breast cancer is decreasing due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and well organized awareness campaigns in many countries.
Breast cancer survival – Life after breast cancer
Good news is that in general, the frequency of breast cancer death is reducing dramatically thanks to treatment advances, earlier detection through screening and increased awareness.
According to the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database (2015), breast cancer survival rates:
Breast cancer survival
5-year Relative Survival Rate
So, millions of women survive breast cancer but life after breast cancer is full of concern about a recurrence and about new cancer.
It is crucial to learn how to cope with fears of recurrence and fight breast cancer. These fears are usually the biggest worry of all women who finished main breast cancer treatments (mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, etc.). It is absolutely necessary to become healthy, strong and optimistic once again. It will take some time but at the end you could become healthier, stronger and much more optimistic about happy life.
Breast cancer survival – Reducing risks of breast cancer recurrence
Many women feel that their body has betrayed them and they cannot feel confident anymore. Body has gone through many changes as a result of a cancer diagnosis and complicated treatments. It will take some time to discover personal risk factors, to make some changes in lifestyle and to develop personal healthy anticancer diet. All mentioned changes will dramatically reduce or abolish risk factors for breast cancer recurrence. Once you survive first five years, later would be much easier.
Avoid stress and take care of yourself emotionally
Medical studies demonstrated strong links between stress and breast cancer. It was noted that finding ways to limit or cope with stress can improve overall survival rate in women with breast cancer.
Most breast cancer clinics have emotional supporting groups where breast cancer survivors openly and honestly share their feelings, threats and experiences in lifestyle changes. In these supportive groups many women can discover how important is to take care of yourself, to put your needs first sometimes and avoid all kinds of stress.
Stop sacrificing yourself – your loved ones can take care of themselves and they can let you to relax and take care of your health status.
You can consider support groups, hobby clubs, dancing classes, psychotherapy or any other activities which can make your strong, confident and happy. It is also important to build trusty relations with your doctor and share all your fears and concerns.
Be active and exercise
Active women and women who exercise are less likely to have breast cancer recurrence. Regular exercising is the best ways to both prevent breast cancer and survive it. You need just 30-40 minutes of any sport 3-4 times a week or one hour walk 2-3 times a week or moderate exercise at least 3-5 hours per week.
Anticancer physical activities were mentioned by several studies – they reduce levels of circulating estrogen, which feeds hormone-sensitive tumors; they lower level of insulin, a hormone linked to recurrence; and they help women to drop extra weight that up breast cancer risks. Scientists noted that physical activities reduce risk of death by 20%. Ten-year breast cancer survival rate is higher in women who exercise regularly than in patients who do not.
Control your weight
It is very important to maintain a healthy weight (BMI should be 18.5-24.9). Women who are overweight are more likely to have their breast cancer come back. When you suffer from obesity, you have higher insulin levels, which promote cancerous cell growth. The heavier you are, the more chemo you need to wipe out cancer.
Maintaining a healthy weight is something you can do to reduce your chance of a recurrence as well as optimize your overall health. Losing weight at any age can help cut breast cancer risk.
Keep your vitamin D levels high
Scientists found correlation between low levels of vitamin D and breast cancer incidences. It is very important to mention that taking vitamin D supplements after breast cancer can reduce your chances of recurrences in the future. There are several studies about vitamin D and breast cancer survival. According to “Anticancer Research” women with breast cancer who have high levels of vitamin D in their blood are twice as likely to survive the disease as women with low levels of this nutrient (University of California, San Diego School of Medicine). Scientists estimated that a serum level of 50 ng/ml is associated with 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
Eat healthy and develop your personal anticancer diet
Low fat and low calorie diet after breast cancer can improve your overall health and increase survival chances. Build your personal anticancer diet based on:
At the same time you should limit alcohol (maximum one drink per day) because research has shown a link between moderate and heavy drinking and breast cancer. It is the right time to quit smoking.
It is very important to continue with regular annual health screenings – mammography, Vitamin D levels, Pap test, bone density scans (after 50 or after chemotherapy), MRI (if needed), screening colonoscopy, dental care, blood tests.
After breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy usually all women should take (daily!) hormonal pills which will prevent recurrence in women with hormone sensitive tumors. In most cases you should take it for 5-10 years. Don’t miss your anticancer pills!
Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.