Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. In fact, 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer in their lifetime. Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early when it is easier to treat. Women should choose to start getting mammograms at the age of 40, unless you have a strong family history of breast cancer. Women should start getting mammograms every year from ages 45-54, and every 2 years at age 55 and older.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast

  • Pain in the breast

  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

  • A new lump in the breast or underarm

Some people may have no symptoms, while others could have some or all. If any of these signs worry you, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.

What are the risk factors?

  • Being a woman. Although rare, men can get breast cancer too.

  • Being older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are older than 50.

  • Inherited changes to certain genes, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. Women who inherited these genetic changes from family members are at risk for breast cancer.

  • Early menstrual periods before the age of 12 and starting menopause after age 55 may raise the risk of breast cancer.

  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Women who their mother, sister, or daughter or multiple family members on either their mother’s or father’s side of the family who had breast or ovarian cancer are at risk.

How can you lower your risk of breast cancer?

  • Exercise regularly

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Limit alcohol

  • Breastfeed your children if possible

  • If you are taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, speak with your provider about the risks

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