Who gets breast cancer? Anyone can get breast cancer. The older a woman is, the more likely she is to get breast cancer. White women are more likely to get breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. They also have better chance of survival, primarily because their cancer is usually detected earlier. African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Men can get breast cancer too, although it is rare.
How can I prevent breast cancer? Because no one knows exactly what causes breast cancer, there are no sure ways to prevent it. However, there are steps that every woman can take that may make developing breast cancer less likely. Leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, may help reduce your risk.
How do I know if I am at risk for breast cancer? All women are at risk for breast cancer. Risk factors are things that increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. They are not necessarily causes of breast cancer. Having known risk factors account for only a small number of new breast cancer cases every year. That means that most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors except being a woman and getting older.
Factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer:
Your best defense The best way to find breast cancer in its earliest stages is to routinely check your breasts for signs and symptoms of the disease. There are 3 basic methods:
Mammograms are X-ray pictures of the breast. They can find breast cancer in its earliest stages, even before a lump can be felt. All women 40 and older should have a mammogram every year. If you are younger than 40 with a family history of breast cancer or other concerns, talk with your health care provider about when to start getting mammograms.
Clinical Breast Exam is performed by a health care provider who carefully checks your breasts and underarm areas for any lumps or changes that may be present. Many women have a clinical breast exam when they get their Pap test. Women should have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years and every year starting at 40.
Breast Self-Exam (BSE) involves 2 main steps, looking at and feeling your breasts for any change from normal. If you notice any change in the normal look or feel of your breasts, see your health care provider. All women should perform monthly BSE by age 20. BSE should be done should be done once a month, a few days after your period ends.
If I am diagnosed with breast cancer, what are my chances of surviving? The 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is approximately 90%.
Your chances are better if the cancer is detected early, before it spreads to other parts of your body. That is why it is so important to take steps to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.