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Breast Cancer Information

Breast Cancer Information and Resources

Breast Cancer

One of the most common forms of cancer among women is breast cancer, which kills nearly 40,000 American women each year. Although one in eight women will contract breast cancer at some time in their lives, many cases can be completely cured or controlled if treated in the early stages.

First Sign of Breast Cancer

The first sign of breast cancer is usually a lump in the breast, sometimes accompanied by other changes in the appearance of the breast such as:

  • Dimples or puckering of the skin
  • Scales
  • Redness
  • A discharge from the nipple

If a lump is diagnosed as cancer at this early stage, it can be removed and the area treated so the cancer doesn't spread. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Many women are afraid of breast cancer because they fear losing a breast. This is a natural worry, but it can lead to dangerous delays in seeking treatment. It may help to keep in mind the following facts about breast cancer:

  • Three out of four breast lumps are not cancerous
  • Small lumps can be easily removed
  • Improvements in surgical technique help women retain a more natural appearance after breast surgery

The risk factors for breast cancer are as follows:

  • Being a woman
  • Over age 40
  • Personal or family history
  • Have never had children
  • Had first child after age 30
  • Began menstrual cycle at an early age or stopped at a late stage

American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer

If you are age 20 to 39:

  • Clinical breast exam every three years
  • Breast self-exam every month

If you are age 40 or older:

  • Clinical breast exam every year
  • Breast self-exam every month
  • Mammogram every year

If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, discuss mammography screening guidelines and scheduling with your health care provider.

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