Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. It is considered a heterogeneous disease – differing by individual, age group, and even the kinds of cells within the tumors themselves.
Breast cancer is the second largest leading cancer affecting women; skin cancer is number one. Breast cancer is only second to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in women. It is estimated that nearly 300,000 women will be diagnosed this year with some form of breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die. Approximately 1,700 men will also be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 450 will die.
Early detection is the critical to saving lives! According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation the 5-year survival rate is 98% with early detection. Doctors urge all women to take an active role in their health and taking the appropriate measures for early detection.
Women in their late teens and early 20′s should perform breast self-examinations monthly. Women should ask their doctor the proper way to do a self-examination and ask their doctor what to look for. They should also report anything out of the ordinary in the self-examination to their doctor.
Women in their 20’s and 30’s should have a clinical breast exam as part of their regular health exam at least every three years, as well as continuing the monthly self-examination.
Women in their 40’s and older should have a clinical breast exam every year, as well as a mammogram. Mammograms should be continued regardless of age, as long as you do not have serious, chronic health problems.
Doctors may also suggest mammograms for those women who are at a higher risk of breast cancer, for example, any family history of breast cancer.
Quick Tips for Breast Cancer Awareness
Week 1 Tip: Know Your Family History. Having a first-degree relative (mother or sister) with breast cancer raises your risk of getting it too. Being aware of your history could change your doctor’s recommendations for screening, so talk to your family now. Even if there’s no history of breast cancer in your family, it’s important to be vigilant about preventive screenings; most breast cancer occurs in women without a family history.