Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a tumor, or cluster of abnormal cells, found in the breast tissue. The disease most often affects women but in rare cases can affect men as well. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer in women behind skin cancer.

Most breast lumps are caused by fluid-filled sacs called cysts. These cysts may or may not be painful and cause the breast to feel lumpy. The only way to know for sure if a breast lump is cancerous is to have it biopsied, or tested by your doctor.

Breast cancer screening

All women in their 20s should begin monthly self-breast exams to become familiar with their breasts so they can recognize changes. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam by a doctor every three years.

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.

Women ages 45 to 54 (and older) should have a mammogram every year. Your doctor may recommend you start screenings earlier based on family history.

Reduce your risk for breast cancer

Although breast cancer is not 100 percent preventable, it’s important to know how to minimize your risk of getting the disease:

  • Always use sunscreen outdoors
  • Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Exercise regularly
  • Follow the recommended breast cancer screening guidelines
  • Have regular checkups with your doctor
  • Know your personal and family health history
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke

For more information, visit these websites:

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