What you need to know about Breast Cancer

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.

Risk Factors

Certain risk factors increase a person’s chance of getting the disease. This does not mean the person will get the disease nor does it mean people without specific risk factors will not get the disease. It only means there is an increased chance. According to the American Cancer Society, these factors may increase risk of breast cancer:

  •  Gender
  •  Aging
  • Genetic Factors
  • Family History of cancer
  • Personal History of Cancer
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Dense Breast Tissue
  • Certain Benign Breast Tissue
  • Menstrual Periods
  • Having Children
  • Birth Control
  • Hormone Therapy after Menopause
  • Drinking Alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical Activity


Screening Recommendations

Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. Three main tests are used to screen the breasts for cancer. Talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you, and when you should have them.



A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are the best method to detect breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.

Clinical Breast Exam


A clinical breast exam is an examination by a doctor or nurse, who uses his or her hands to feel for lumps or other changes.

Breast Self-Exam


A breast self-exam is when you check your own breasts for lumps, changes in size or shape of the breast, or any other changes in the breasts or underarm (armpit).

Credits: Cape Atlantic Coalition For HealthGoogle Images & Biosoft

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