Breast cancer starts when out-of-control cell growth forms a tumor. The tumor becomes malignant when the cell growth pervades into the surrounding tissues. Excluding skin cancers, it’s the most common cancer among American women, afflicting about 1 in 8 women.

While it’s estimated more than 40,000 women die from breast cancer annually, it can be effectively treated with an early diagnosis. This makes a mammogram – an x-ray exam of the breast – critical. Breast cancer awareness is an important driver to enacting mammogram appointments, which can help detect breast cancer before symptoms even start showing. Take the time to discuss breast cancer issues among your loved ones, like your mom, sister, and aunts. It could save a life.

Since 1989, the death rates from breast cancer have diminished, largely thanks to more awareness and the prevalence of mammogram screenings. If you know someone whom is over 40-years-old and has never undergone a mammogram, encourage them to do so. Women over the age of 40 are recommended to have a mammogram every two years. If they are considered high risk for breast cancer, they should occur annually.

So what are the risk factors?

Risks You Cannot Change

  • Aging – 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 and older
  • Gene Defects – the inherited BRCA1 gene causes an increase of 55 to 65% in risk
  • First-degree relatives with breast cancer doubles your risk
  • Race – white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Started menstruation before age 12
  • Experience menopause after age 55
  • Previous chest radiation

Lifestyle Risks You Can Change

  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol is known to increase the risk
  • Not Exercising – a study from Women’s Health Initiative revealed as little as 1 to 2 hours per week of brisk walking reduced risk by 18%
  • Having Children – there is a slightly higher risk for women without children or women who have children after age 30


Connect with Your Nurse Navigator

A cancer diagnosis is emotional and can be overwhelming for both you and your family. Memorial Healthcare now offers patients a Nurse Navigator to help answer questions, help schedule necessary appointments, and become your partner in your treatment journey.