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Breast Cancer Awareness

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms?

There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include—

· Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.

· Pain in any area of the breast.

· Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).

· A new lump in the breast or underarm.

· Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.

· Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.

· Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.

· Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

Keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.  If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

What Is a Normal Breast?

No breast is typical. What is normal for you may not be normal for another woman. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven. The way your breasts look and feel can be affected by getting your period, having children, losing or gaining weight, and taking certain medications. Breasts also tend to change as you age.

What Do Lumps in My Breast Mean?

Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.

How Can I Lower My Risk?

The main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include:

· Being a woman

· Being older (most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older).

· Having changes in your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

Most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors and no history of the disease in their families. There are things you can do to can help lower your breast cancer risk. Keep reading!

The Importance of Breast Cancer Screenings

Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. All women need to be informed by their health care provider about the best screening options for them.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an organization made up of doctors and disease experts who look at research on the best way to prevent diseases and make recommendations on how doctors can help patients avoid diseases or find them early.  The USPST recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women who are 40 to 49 years old should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram. Women should weigh the benefits and risks of screening tests when deciding whether to begin getting mammograms before age 50.

Breast Cancer Screening Tests

Where Can I Go to Get Screened?

You can get screened for breast cancer at a clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office. If you want to be screened for breast cancer, call your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment.

Most health insurance plans are required to cover mammograms every one to two years for women beginning at age 40 with no out-of-pocket cost (like a co-pay, deductible, or co-insurance).

Mammogram

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. At this time, a mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer for most women.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A breast MRI uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures of the breast. MRI is used along with mammograms to screen women who are at high risk for getting breast cancer. Because breast MRIs may appear abnormal even when there is no cancer, they are not used for women at average risk.

Other Exams

Clinical Breast Exam

A clinical breast exam is an examination by a doctor or nurse, who uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes.

Breast Self-Awareness

Being familiar with how your breasts look and feel can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. These could include changes found during a breast self-exam. You should report any changes that you notice to your doctor or health care provider.

Having a clinical breast exam or doing a breast self-exam has not been found to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Fast Facts About Breast Cancer

· Each year in the United States, more than 245,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.

· Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.

· Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

Source: www.cdc.gov

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