Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any cancer except lung cancer. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there a number of risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include
- Age – the chance of getting breast cancer rises as a woman gets older
- Genes – there are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, that greatly increase the risk. Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
- Personal factors – beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55
Other risks include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35 or having dense breasts.
Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exam and mammography can help find breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
Men can have breast cancer, too, but the number of cases is smaller.
What is a mammogram? A mammogram is an X-ray test that produces an image of the inner breast tissue. This technique is used to visualize normal and abnormal structures within the breasts. Mammography can help identify abnormalities within the breast. Breast self-examination on a monthly basis and examination by a doctor are still important, but physical examinations typically find breast cancers when they are much larger than those detected by mammography.
The American Cancer Society recommends that a woman obtain her first baseline mammogram at the age of 40. After that, she should receive a yearly mammogram. Women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer may need to obtain mammograms earlier than these recommendations and at more frequent intervals. Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies generally cover the cost of mammography. Medical Care offers 2D and 3D digital mammograms.
Call or Text our Radiology Department at (423) 431-0315
Breast cancer is 90% curable when caught early. Get in-depth information here about breast cancer, its symptoms, stages, and promising treatments. Plus, meet breast cancer survivors in our online support groups.