Doctors recommend healthy lifestyles in fight against breast cancer


INDIANAPOLIS — October is breast cancer awareness month, and doctors are talking about prevention, treatment and re-occurrence. The good news in terms of treatment, is some breast cancers when diagnosed early and genetically tested, can be successfully treated without using chemotherapy.

As for prevention and re-occurrence, more and more breast surgeons are advising their patients to adopt healthy lifestyles: specifically getting weight into a normal range.

In fact, it’s estimated 40% of cancer reoccurrence is connected to weight and the lack of good nutritional habits.

“Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight is important,” says Dr. Erika Rager, a breast surgeon. “Obesity is a clear risk factor for developing breast cancer, especially when you are post menopausal.”

Some risk factors for breast cancer include excessive alcohol use and hormone replacement therapy, used over a long period of time. Genetics plays a role as well.

Lisa Markland is a breast cancer survivor who learned her diagnosis close to a year ago.

She had a partial mastectomy and radiation and then was referred to Franciscan Health’s Healthy Living Center. The head of the center, Robin Eads, DNP, zeroed in on Lisa’s eating, sleeping and activity habits as the next stage in preventing her breast cancer from reoccurring.

“I have them journal, they have that self-realization of what their habits are,” says Eads. “I want to know what time they eat, what they’re eating, are they satisfied. I do think sleep is underrated, a lot of us don’t look at how important sleep is-getting that seven to eight hours of sleep at night is important.”

Eads says the Health Living Center is patient focused. But Eads is there to help with behavior modification and support.

Change takes time and the patient, like Lisa Markland, is supported in her journey.

Eads also prescribes activity, like walking for many of her clients. But Lisa decided to hire a personal trainer and work out at a nearby gym.

“I’ve lost 14 pounds so far,” says Lisa. “I know it’s not going to come off immediately but more than the scale, clothes are fitting differently.”

The Healthy Living Center is one of a number of programs under the Franciscan Health umbrella. Telehealth appointments are available as well.

“We focus on the area important to the patient,” says Eads. “We want them to develop healthy lifelong habits.”

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