American women have an average risk of about 12% of developing breast cancer sometime in their lives. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer.
As a Breast Center of Excellence, Harris Regional Hospital is taking a stand against breast cancer. We want all of the women in our communities -- our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends -- to know their risk, to recognize the signs and symptoms, and to understand the importance of self-checks and early detection.
Like most cancers, early detection of breast cancer is key to successful treatment and recovery. So if you are older than 40 or have a family history of breast cancer, and have never had a mammogram, call 828.631.8100 today to schedule your baseline exam. And once you start, don't stop. Perform monthly self-exams, and no matter how busy life gets, make time for your mammogram. It could save your life.
Tips for Prevention and Detection
Understanding the risk factors is the first step to prevention. While anyone can develop breast cancer, people displaying certain behaviors, demographics and health profiles are more prone to the disease. These include:
- Women with a history of breast cancer have a 3- to 4-times increased risk of developing a new breast cancer, unrelated to the first one, in the other breast or in another part of the same breast.
- Women with a family history of breast cancer. Having a mother, sister or daughter who has (or has had) breast cancer increases your risk for developing the disease. The risk is even greater if your relative had cancer in both breasts or developed breast cancer before menopause.
- Women older than 50. About 77 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are over age 50, and almost half are age 65 and older.
- Women with a previous breast biopsy result of atypical hyperplasia, or those with a previous abnormal breast biopsy indicating fibroadenomas with complex features, hyperplasia without atypia, sclerosing adenosis and solitary papilloma.
- Carriers of alterations in either of two familial breast cancer genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2.
- Caucasian women are at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than are African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American women.
- Women who have their first child after age 35 or never have children.
- Women who started menstruating before age 12.
- Women who begin menopause after age 55.
- Overweight women, with excess caloric and fat intake (especially post-menopause).
- Women who have 2 to 5 alcoholic beverages a day are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who drink no alcohol.
- Those exposed to excessive amounts of radiation, especially before age 30.
- Women who use Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for an extended period of time. (Risk seems to return to that of the general population after discontinuing use for five years or more.)
- Those with other cancer in the family. A family history of cancer of the ovaries, cervix, uterus or colon increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
For people who display one or more of those risk factors, it is important to understand and be able to detect the symptoms. While breast cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages, the following symptoms may be present as a tumor develops:
- A lump in the breast or underarm that persists after your menstrual cycle
- A marble-like area under the skin
- Swelling in the armpit
- Persistent breast pain or tenderness
- Any change in the size, contour, texture or temperature of the breast
- A noticeable flattening or indentation on the breast
- A change in the nipple, such as an indrawn or dimpled look, itching or burning sensation, or ulceration
- Unusual discharge from the nipple
Men and Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it, too. Many people do not realize that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas.
Schedule a Screening Mammogram
To schedule a screening mammogram, call 828.631.8100