What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.

 

Causes

Being a Woman: Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for breast cancer. Men can get breast cancer too, but this disease is about 100 times more common in women than in men.

Getting Older: As you get older, your risk of breast cancer goes up. Most breast cancers are found in women age 55 and older.

Certain Inherited Genes: About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from gene defects (called mutations) passed on from a parent.

 

Prevention

· Don’t smoke

· Be Physically Active

· Limit or avoid alcohol

· Breast feed, if possible

· Maintain a healthy body weight 

 

Early Detection

Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.

A clinical breast exam (CBE) is a physical exam done by a health care provider. It's often done during your regular medical check-up. A CBE should be performed by a health care provider well trained in the technique. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends a trained provider carefully feel your breasts, underarm and the area just below your clavicle (breast bone) for any changes or abnormalities such as a lump. The provider will visually check your breasts while you are sitting up and physically examine your breasts while you are lying down.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.

· Women age 40 – 45 or older who are at average risk of breast cancer should have a mammogram once a year.

· Women at high risk should have yearly mammograms along with an MRI starting at age 30.

 

Did you know?

· About 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.

· About 63,410 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed

· About 40,610 women will die from breast cancer.

· Men can get breast cancer as well.

· Having more children and starting your family at a young age decrease your risk for breast cancer.

· Birth control methods that use hormones also create a slightly higher risk for breast cancer.