WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. The damaged cells can invade surrounding tissue, but with early detection and treatment, most people continue a normal life.
FACTS ABOUT BREAST CANCER IN THE UNITED STATES
- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
- Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
- Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
Create a Breast Cancer Early Detection Plan
The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages. Create your Breast Cancer Early Detection Plan to receive reminders to do breast self-exams, and schedule your clinical breast exams and mammograms based on your age and health history.
When breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent. Clinical exams and breast self-awareness are important methods of early breast cancer detection and should be performed along with mammography. All three of these methods provide complete breast cancer screening.
How Often Should I Have a Clinical Breast Exam? (Mammogram)
You should have a clinical breast exam every one to three years starting at age 20 and every year starting at age 40. A clinical breast exam may be recommended more frequently if you have a strong family history of breast cancer.
When Should I Schedule a Clinical Breast Exam?
Breast exams are best performed soon after your menstrual period ends, because your breasts will not be as tender and swollen as during your period. This makes it easier to detect any unusual changes. If you have stopped menstruating, schedule the yearly exam on a day that’s easy for you to remember, such as your birthday.
Steps for a Breast Self-Exam
Have you ever performed a breast self-exam? If not, do yourself a favor by learning how to perform a breast self-exam, and do it regularly, along with getting annual doctor exams.
- Find a private place to disrobe down to the waist.
- Lie down so that your body is completely horizontal. Use a pillow under your back on the side you are examining. When examining your right breast, tuck your right hand behind your neck and use your left hand to examine the right breast and right underarm area.
- Using the pads of the tips of your fingers, gently press sections of your breast. There are several effective methods to thoroughly cover all of the breast tissue area, which extends up under your arms. Choose one method, and use it every time rather than varying methods. Look at one of your breasts and picture it as a clock face, wagon wheel, or farm field.
- Starting at the 12 o’clock position, make tiny circular motions with the pads of your fingers, moving toward the one o’clock position of the clock face pattern on your breast. Continue around the breast in this way until you arrive back at the top, or 12 o’clock.