Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women except for nonmelanoma skin cancers and the second deadliest cancer in women in the U.S. In 2009 alone, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women in the United States, and 62,280 more women learned they have a noninvasive type of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
There is still no preventive for breast cancer. But there have been some advances: If breast cancer is caught before it spreads, the five-year survival rate is now greater than 98 percent. According to the American Cancer Society, regular mammograms, MRIs in women at high risk, clinical breast exams and finding and reporting breast changes early are the best detection methods.
The reality is that all women are at risk for and susceptible to developing breast cancer. Having several risk factors does not mean you will get the disease. Most women who have one or more risk factors never get breast cancer, and many women with no risk factors other than being female and growing older will develop the disease. Your health care professional can help you understand your personal risk factors and discuss what approaches are best for you.
Discuss breast cancer with your health care professional. Here are some suggested questions to ask:
- What is my risk for developing breast cancer?
- My mother had breast cancer. Will I develop it too?
- What can I do to reduce my risks for developing breast cancer?
- What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
- How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- Are breast self-exams really worth doing? Will you show me how to do one?
- How often and when should I do a breast self-exam?
- What is a clinical breast exam? How often do I need to have one?
- What is a screening mammogram? Should I have one? Does it hurt?
- I'm not sure I can afford a mammogram. Are low-cost or free mammograms available?
- Can breast cancer be treated? What treatments are available?
- I've been taking birth control pills for years. Do they increase my risk for developing breast cancer?
- Does postmenopausal hormone therapy cause breast cancer?
For more information on risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options for breast cancer, visit the HealthyWomen Health Center at http://www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/breast.
© 2013. National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc. All rights reserved. All content provided in this guide is for information purposes only. Any information herein relating to specific medical conditions, preventive care and/or healthy lifestyles does not suggest individual diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for medical attention.Back to Breast Cancer Awareness Guide Home Page
Back to HealthyWomen Home Page