The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Make a difference! Spread the word about mammograms and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.
When considering your breast cancer risk, it is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of women who develop breast cancer have no obvious risk factors and no family history of breast cancer. Multiple risk factors influence the development of breast cancer. This means that all women need to be aware of changes in their breasts. They also need to talk with their doctor about receiving regular breast examinations by a doctor as well as mammograms. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that can often detect a tumor that is too small to be felt.
The following factors may raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer:
Age. The risk of developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages, with most cancers developing in women older than 50.
Personal history. A woman who has had breast cancer in 1 breast has a higher risk of developing a new cancer in either breast.
Family history. Breast cancer may run in the family in any of these situations:
- 1 or more women are diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45 or younger
- 1 or more women are diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 with an additional family history of cancer, such as ovarian cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer
- There are breast and/or ovarian cancers in multiple generations on one side of the family, such as having both a grandmother and an aunt on the father’s side of the family who were both diagnosed with 1 of these cancers
- A woman in the family is diagnosed with a second breast cancer in the same or the other breast or has both breast and ovarian cancer
- A male relative is diagnosed with breast cancer
- There is at least 1 close relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger, or ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and/or pancreatic cancer
- Having Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
It is important to talk with your doctor if your family has experienced any of the above situations.
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