October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! The best protection is early detection
Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. If you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.
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), and a new lump in the breast or underarm. If you have any signs that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.
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), and having changes in your breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). 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. The Know:BRCA tool can help you assess your risk of having changes in your BRCA genes.
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 which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.
Tips for Women with Physical Disabilities
If you are a woman living with a disability, you may face challenges that make it hard to get amammogram. When scheduling your mammogram, ask the staff how to prepare if you use a wheelchair or a scooter, and ask if the machine can be adjusted so you can remain seated. Also, tell the staff if you need help to sit upright, move your arms, transfer from your chair or scooter, or get undressed and dressed. Ask how long the appointment is and if you can have more time if you need it. If you have any disability-related concerns, discuss them with your doctor.
Fast Facts About Breast Cancer
- Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 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. Each year in the United States, about 2,000 men get breast cancer and about 400 men die from the disease.
- Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 11% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
- Studies show that women with disabilities are less likely than women without disabilities to have received a mammogram during the past two years.
- Black women have the highest breast cancer death rates of all racial and ethnic groups, and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.