Schedule your breast cancer screening -- you deserve good health!
Why? The reason is simple. You’re that important! And so is your mother, aunt, sister, friend, female colleague or neighbor. About one in eight women in the U.S. will get invasive breast cancer.1 It’s a scary thought, but there’s somewhat better news. Death rates from breast cancer have dropped since the 1990s.1 Information is power; the more you know, the more you can help yourself and other women you love take steps to help prevent or discover cancer early.
So what is breast cancer?
Breast cancer happens when cells in the breast split and grow out of control. The most common types of breast cancer are found in milk glands and milk ducts. When cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, the cancer is called invasive. When cancer cells stay where they grow, it’s noninvasive. 2,3
Are you likely to get breast cancer?
There are a few common links among women with breast cancer, called risk factors. They give you a greater chance of getting breast cancer. Having one or more doesn’t mean you’ll get breast cancer; most women who have some risk factors never get the disease.4 Just be aware of these risk factors:
- Getting older — about 66% of breast cancers are found in women at least 55 years old
- Having a family member with breast cancer/ inherited genetic factors
- Having your first child after age 35
- Starting menopause after age 55
- Having your first period before age 12
- Using birth control pills now or recently
- Not being active
- Being overweight or obese
- Drinking alcohol — women who have two to five drinks a day have 1.5 times the risk of women who don’t drink 4,5
Screenings you may need
Breast cancer screenings look for the cancer before you have symptoms. The size of the cancer and the stage when it’s found affect treatment and survival.6 Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and schedule your breast cancer screenings.
Here are two important breast cancer screenings:
- Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast, this is the best way to fi nd breast cancer early.
- Clinical breast exam: Your doctor or nurse feels for lumps and examines the breast for changes.
Ask your doctor what tests you may need and how often you should have them.
Pay attention to symptoms
First perform a breast self-exam. This is a self-check you do on your own breasts to look and feel for lumps and changes in breast size and shape.7 Check out the list below to see what to look for. Symptoms vary from person to person. Just remember, having any of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. If you have these symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible:
- A new lump in the breast or armpit
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of the skin
- Red or fl aky skin on the breast or nipple
- Pulling in of the nipple or nipple pain
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Change in breast size or shape
- Pain in any part of the breast 8,9
You may have no symptoms at all. That’s why the tests are so important.8 You should know mammograms can’t find all breast cancers, but it’s a good start.9
Remember to schedule your mammogram and tell your friends to do the same. It’s something you can do for yourself -- and your loved ones.
Pregnant women: get checked, too!
Breast cancer rarely happens during pregnancy, but is the most common cancer found in pregnant women — about one in 3,000 women. It’s harder to find lumps during pregnancy. So it’s vital that pregnant women do self-exams as well as get clinical exams.10
Questions? Call the 800-4-CANCER hotline
The National Cancer Institute’s hotline has experts to answer questions, send booklets, fact sheets and other materials. You also can go to cancer.gov to learn more about breast cancer.
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