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8 Things You Should Do as a Breast Cancer Survivor

Having a healthy lifestyle will not only help prevent breast cancer from recurring but also help you live a longer, happier life. Additionally, there are few other recommended practices to help you prevent other diseases and conditions. Here are the top 8 things you can do.

1. Receive Routine Screenings

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Don’t forget to schedule your skin or breast cancer screenings and tests for high blood pressure or cholesterol. You should also keep up with routine colonoscopies and possibly CT scans(C-T SCANS) — An imaging technique that uses x-rays to see the inside of the body if you are a smoker.1

Keep in mind that screening(SKREE-NING) — Using a test to find a specific disease or condition at an early point in the course of a disease is complex and highly tailored to you and your personal risk. So, talk to your doctor, he or she may recommend early or additional screening tests(SKREE-NING TESTS) — A procedure used to discover a disease at an early stage based on your risk factors.

2. Update Your Immunizations

Immunizations (aka vaccines(VAX-ZEENS) — A treatment used to teach your immune system how to recognize certain foreign invaders and prevent disease) are a very effective way to prevent diseases and infections that can cause significant problems, such as influenza(IN-FLEW-EN-ZAH) — A viral infection that causes a fever and severe aching (the flu), many types of pneumonia(NEW-MOAN-YAH) — Infection of the lungs, shingles(SHING-GULS) — A virus that causes a painful blistering rash, tetanus(TEH-TAH-NUHS) — A bacterial infection that is transmitted through cuts in the skin and can cause severe muscle spasms, mumps(MUMPS) — A viral infection spread through coughing and saliva that causes inflammation of the parotid gland and other organs in the body, and rubella(RUE-BEH-LA) — A viral infection that causes a rash, fever, and sore throat.

3. Avoid Tobacco

Did you know that every year more women die of lung cancer(LUNG CAN-SIR) — Abnormal growth that originates from lung tissue than breast cancer?2 Since you have already faced breast cancer, we suggest doing everything you can to avoid getting lung cancer. The best way to do this? Avoid tobacco. If you use any form of tobacco (like smoking), quit. There are many new and improved options to help you. If you are not currently using tobacco, don’t start and avoid second-hand smoke.1

Plus, tobacco use leads to many other health issues beyond lung cancer.

4. Get Your Vitamin D & Calcium

Make sure you have enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet. This is especially important if you take an aromatase inhibitor(AH-ROAM-AH-TASE IN-HIB-IT-ER) — A class of hormonal therapy that blocks the production of estrogen and progesterone, have early onset menopause(ER-LEE ON-SET MEN-AH-PAUSE) — Menopause that begins at a much younger age, which can be caused by medication, ovarian removal, or pituitary dysfunction, or have low bone density.3

5. Receive Bone Density Checks

Bone density checks are usually recommended for patients on aromatase inhibitors or after the age of 50.

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6. Eat Right & Exercise

Regular exercise can help with many aspects of post-treatment life like dealing with fatigue and managing your weight. A healthy weight can improve your mood and mental health, decrease joint pain, and reduce your risk for diseases like diabetes(DIE-AH-BEE-TEES) — A disease where a person’s blood sugars are higher than normal, eventually leading to serious medical issues and heart disease(HART DUH-ZEEZ) — A condition that affects the hearts function, which can lead to chest pain and heart attacks. Exercise is also one of the best ways to decrease your risk of recurrent breast cancer(REE-CER-ENT BRE-ST CAN-SIR) — The return of breast cancer after a period of time following initial diagnosis.

Wondering why this is? Learn why exercise is one of the best things you can do as a breast cancer survivor.

7. Limit Alcohol Use

It might be tempting to drink alcohol now that you’re in remission(RE-MISH-SHUN) — The change in size of a cancer after treatment. However, it is recommended that you limit alcohol use to no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.


8. Manage Lymphedema

Meet with a lymphedema(LIMFF-A-DEEM-MA) — Chronic swelling of a limb after lymph nodes are removed specialist for recommendations. Somethings they might recommend include wearing compression sleeves or gloves or using different massage techniques to help reduce and control the swelling. Sometimes, compression pumps are needed to control the swelling.

If you have not developed lymphedema, you can try to prevent it from developing by not having your blood pressure taken or blood drawn from the arm on the side of the surgery(SIR-JER-REE) — Physical removal of a tumor.

We know and understand some of these practices can be hard to accomplish. Lean on your support system to help you through the challenges.
  1. Runowicz CD, Leach CR, Henry NL, et al. American cancer society/American society of clinical oncology breast cancer survivorship care guideline. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2015;66(1):43–73. doi:10.3322/caac.21319.
  2. Cancer Statistics. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics. Accessed February 14, 2017.
  3. Lustberg MB, Reinbolt RE, Shapiro CL. Bone health in adult cancer survivorship. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2012;30(30):3665–3674. doi:10.1200/jco.2012.42.2097.
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