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5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, affecting both women and, in rare cases, men. Breast cancer develops when cells in the breast tissue grow abnormally and form a lump or mass. By taking proactive steps and making informed choices, we can reduce our risk and contribute to the fight against breast cancer.


Fact #1: Early Detection Saves Lives 

Early detection plays an important role in the successful treatment of breast cancer. Regular breast self-exams and mammograms are vital parts of early detection.

  • Women should begin performing breast self-exams in their 20s and continue throughout their lives. This simple routine can help identify any unusual changes in breast tissue.
  • Mammograms, which are X-ray images of the breast, are one of the most effective tools for detecting breast cancer. Women aged 40 and older are typically recommended to have annual mammograms, although this may vary based on individual risk factors.
  • If you have breast implants, pay extra attention to how your new breasts look and feel. Often, women with implants can notice changes more easily than women without because the implants tend to push the natural breast tissue closer to the surface of the breast, making a lump easier to feel.

Clinical Breast Exams (CBE) are not performed as part of the screening for a woman with an average risk of developing breast cancer, however, a diagnostic CBE remains an important part of the evaluation for women with specific breast complaints or abnormalities. Because there is a lack of evidence showing the benefit of a clinical breast exam and evidence suggesting an increase in false-positive rates, CBEs are not recommended.


Fact #2: For those at higher risk, screenings should begin much earlier.

Certain factors increase a person's risk of developing breast cancer. These factors include:

  • Family History: A family history of breast cancer, especially in close relatives like mother, sister, or daughter, can raise your risk.
  • Genetic Mutations: Mutations in genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Your doctor may recommend genetic testing if you have a strong family history of breast cancer or other risk factors.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy, particularly estrogen and progesterone, may increase risk, so it's essential to discuss the pros and cons with your doctor and make sure you are getting your annual mammogram.

Those with a high risk of breast cancer should be screened with a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically beginning at age 30. According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, black women are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and often get deadly cancers at younger ages. New studies have shown that they may want to consider screening earlier than 40.


Fact #3: Treatment Options Vary

Breast cancer treatment options vary and depend on factors like the stage of cancer, type of cancer, and the individual's health. There are many newer procedures now available to treat breast cancer compared to several decades ago. In general, breast cancer treatment typically includes a combination of therapies, such as breast surgery, chemotherapy or hormonal therapy, and radiation. Nearly all patients diagnosed with breast cancer will need surgery but with the advancements made in breast cancer survival, surgical approaches have expanded to include breast conservation, skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies, as well as hidden-scar surgery.


Fact #4: Breast cancer does not just affect women

While breast cancer is more common in women, it can affect anyone, regardless of gender. Men account for a small percentage of breast cancer cases, highlighting the importance of awareness and screenings for all individuals.


Fact #5: You Can Lower Your Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

While some risk factors are beyond our control, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer:

  • Be Informed: Learn about your family history and discuss any risk factors with your doctor. If you have a close relative (such as a mother, sister, or daughter) who develops breast cancer inform your doctor at your next visit.
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. To help control your weight, engage in regular exercise and maintain a balanced diet. Some studies suggest diets high in vegetables and fruits may reduce breast cancer risk.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Research has shown drinking alcohol cis linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking is a well-established risk factor for several cancers, including breast cancer. Quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including reducing your cancer risk.
  • Breastfeeding: If you're a mother, consider breastfeeding your baby. Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of breast cancer, providing various health benefits for you and your child.


Breast cancer is a widespread disease and affects individuals of all genders and ages. Being informed about the importance of early detection, screenings, risk factors, treatment options, and lifestyle choices empowers you to take charge of your breast health.