Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in U.S. women. It is estimated that each year about 210,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and around 40,000 die from the disease.
Breast cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the breast. The disease usually develops in the ducts or lobules, also known as the milk-producing areas of the breast. There are two main categories of breast cancer – noninvasive and invasive. Noninvasive breast cancers are confined to the ducts or lobules and do not spread to surrounding tissues. Invasive breast cancers penetrate through normal breast tissue and invade surrounding areas. They are more serious than noninvasive cancers because they can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, liver, lungs, and brain.
- To learn more about breast cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/breast
- For information on understanding breast health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/fact_breast_health.htm.
Did You Know?
- Starting at age 40, you should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years.
- White women are more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, although African-American women are more likely to die of the disease.
- Men can develop breast cancer, but this disease is about 100 times more common among women than men.
- You cannot get breast cancer by bumping, bruising, pinching, or touching the breast.
- Regular screening mammograms are covered by Medicare and Medicaid programs and other private health insurance plans. Check your own insurance plans to see if you are covered.
Focus On: Early Detection
Breast changes occur in almost all women. Most of these changes are not cancer. However, some breast changes may be signs of cancer. See your health care provider about a breast change when you have:
- A lump in or near your breast or under your arm.
- Thick or firm tissue in or near your breast or under your arm.
- Nipple discharge or tenderness.
- A nipple pulled back (inverted) into the breast.
- Itching or skin changes such as redness, scales, dimples,
- A change in breast size or shape.
Some people do not have any signs or symptoms of breast cancer at all. That is why screening is so important. The following three recommendations can help you find and treat breast cancer early:
- Have regular mammograms.
- Have your doctor check your breasts.
- Check your breasts yourself every month.
To learn more about breast self-exams, visit the National Women’s Health Information Center Web site at www.womenshealth.gov/faq/bsefaq.htm.
For information on low-cost or free mammograms, contact your health department, call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at (800) 422-6237, or find a local program on breast and cervical cancer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/cancercontacts/nbccedp/contacts.asp.
Prevention Tips: Healthy Habits
There are things you can do to help lower your risk of
- Get screened for breast cancer regularly.
- Know your family history of breast cancer.
- Find out the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause.
- Control your weight.
- Make healthy choices in the foods you eat.
- Exercise four or more hours a week.
- Limit your amount of alcohol to no more than one drink a day.
For information on breast cancer prevention, visit the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/breast/Patient/page3.