Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer (other than skin) in women. 1 out of 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Women with breast cancer have malignant tumors that develop in tissues of the breast. These tumors change abnormally or begin to grow uncontrollably, destroying the breast tissue. Eventually, cancer cells invade other cells and the disease can spread throughout the body.
All women are at risk for breast cancer. 80% of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease. The risk increases if the woman has a history of breast cancer in her family, has never had children or had her first child after age 30, began menstruating before age 12, or completed menopause after age 55. These factors do not mean you will get cancer, but having one or more of these risk factors may increase your risk.
There is no known way to prevent breast cancer. Early detection of the disease is crucial. The overall 5-year survival rate is 75 out of 100 women – this rate increases to 93 out of 100 women when the cancer is found in the earliest stages. Early detection and screening is key – remember the ABC's of Good Breast Health:
- Annual Screening Mammogram (age 40)
- Breast Self Exam Monthly (age 20)
- Clinical Breast Exam (every 3 years before age 40, and every year after age 40)