If you didn’t already know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and is the second leading cause of death among women. Each year, an estimated 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with this disease and of that number, more than 40,000 will die. Although these statistics are grim, there is hope. Throughout this month, we’ll be sharing stories of brave, courageous women who have survived breast cancer as well as those who fought the fight but eventually lost their lives.
Until then, we’ve compiled 10 important facts about breast cancer that everyone should know.
1. Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (infectious) cancer cells form in the tissues of the breast.
2. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
3. The warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer are not the same in all women. The most common signs are changes in the appearance or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge.
4. Breast cancer risk increases with age.
5. The following factors are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer: a family history of breast or ovarian cancer; high breast density on a mammogram; exposure to large amounts of radiation at a young age; younger age at first period (under 12); never having children or having a first child after age 35 (to see more, click here).
6. The following factors are linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer: achieving and maintaining a healthy weight; getting regular exercise; limiting alcohol and breastfeeding, if you can.
7. Regular screenings tests (along with follow-up tests and treatment if diagnosed) reduce your chance of dying from breast cancer.
8. Mammograms are the best screening tools for breast cancer today. It can find breast cancer early when it is small and the chances for survival are the highest.
9. Men can get breast cancer, although it is rare. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. In 2014, it is estimated that 2, 360 men will be diagnosed with the disease. For men, the lifetime diagnosis is 1 in 1,000.
10. Breast cancer is not common in young women. In the U.S., less than five percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women under 40.
For more information about breast cancer, check out several informative fact sheets here.