About Breast Cancer

10 Things You Should Know

  • Woman in pink superhero capeOne out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer… that’s one every three minutes.
  • One woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes… nearly 40,000 women each year.
  • Monthly breast self examinations and annual clinical exams and mammograms in women 50 years and older could prevent as many as 30 percent of those deaths.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends women begin annual screening mammograms at age 40. Women should begin breast self examinations as early as in their 20s.
  • Breast cancer death rates have been steadily decreasing due to increased awareness of the importance of early detection and because of improved treatments. Today, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • Between 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to inherited genes. Women who have inherited these genes are 80 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. If your family history includes close relatives on either your mother’s or father’s sides who have had breast cancer at an early age, you may wish to seek genetic counseling to learn if you are at higher risk for breast cancer.
  • If your mother, sister, or daughter have had breast cancer, your risk for it more than doubles. Genetic counseling and aggressive surveillance/treatment may be recommended by your doctor.
  • More than 85 percent of women diagnosed do not have a family history of breast cancer… that’s why breast self examinations and annual exams and mammograms by your doctor are so important to early detection, treatment, and survival.
  • You can reduce your risk of breast cancer with simple lifestyle choices… maintain a healthy weight… exercise regularly, even if it’s just a brisk walk 20 minutes each day… eat healthy foods…. and drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Tobacco use is clearly linked with many kinds of cancers and other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, consider quitting.

* Adapted from American Cancer Society materials.