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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here are some important facts about the disease, which is one of the top causes of cancer death among women of all races and Hispanic origin populations1:

  • According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, “breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.” These abnormal cells invade healthy cells in surrounding tissues and can spread to other parts of the body if they break off of the original tumor.
  • Risk factors associated with breast cancer include:
    Genetic Factors Environmental/Lifestyle Factors
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Race
    • Family history
    • Personal health history, including menstrual and reproductive history
    • Dense breast tissue
    • Lack of physical activity
    • Poor diet
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Frequent alcohol use
    • Radiation to the chest
    • Combined hormone replacement therapy
  • A biopsy, MRI, ultrasound and mammogram are ways of diagnosing breast cancer. A mammogram, which is an x-ray of the breast, is currently the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer.
  • Performing monthly breast self-exams and having regular clinical breast exams and mammograms with your doctor are key steps in early detection of breast cancer. In cases where breast cancer is detected early, at a localized stage, the survival rate is 98%.
  • Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, drugs that block the growth of cancer cells and hormone therapy via drugs that destroy cancer cells. Surgery is the common break cancer treatment.
  • A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast or as much of the breast tissue as possible. It is a critical life-saving procedure for many women; however, like other surgeries, it often results in the formation of adhesions as the body heals from the surgery. Learn about treating mastectomy pain without drugs or surgery.