Doctors do not always agree on the most effective way to manage the care of women who have a strong family history of breast cancer and/or have other risk factors for the disease. Some doctors may advise very close monitoring (periodic mammograms, regular checkups that include a clinical breast examination performed by a health care professional, and monthly breast self-examinations) to increase the chance of detecting breast cancer at an early stage.
Some doctors may recommend preventive mastectomy, while others may prescribe tamoxifen or raloxifene, medications that have been shown to decrease the chances of getting breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. (More information about tamoxifen and raloxifene is available in the National Cancer Institute’s fact sheets, Tamoxifen: Questions and Answers, which can be found at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/tamoxifen on the Internet, and The Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene: Questions and Answers, which can be found at http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/STARresultsQandA on the Internet.)
Doctors may also encourage women at high risk to limit their consumption of alcohol, eat a low-fat diet, engage in regular exercise, and avoid menopausal hormone use. Although these lifestyle recommendations make sense and are part of an overall healthy way of living, we do not yet have clear and convincing proof that they specifically reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
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