Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is among the leading causes of death in women in the U.S. This year (2017), an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

Breast cancer survival depends on a person’s diagnosis and treatment. A main factor in survival is breast cancer stage.

Non-invasive (stage 0) and early stage invasive (stages I and II) breast cancers have a better chance of survival than later stage cancers (stages III and IV). According to the American Cancer Society (2017), from 2010-2014, non- Hispanic black women had the highest breast cancer mortality rate in the U.S. The risk factors for BC are many, some of them are: genetic mutation BRCA 1& 2, family history, use of alcohol, dense breasts, increased age, hormonal therapy/contraceptives, obesity, physical inactivity, early menses, late or no pregnancy, and menopause after age 55. Symptoms of BC are 

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).

  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.

  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.

  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.

  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.

  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.

  • Pain in any area of the breast.

*Note: Please keep in mind that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.

What to do? Regular breast self-exams are important and this should be done several days after your period when they are least likely to be swollen/tender.

Mammography: Mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts and it should be done starting at age 40 or earlier depending on your risk factors. It is highly recommended to consult with your provider. Screening mammogram is done when you do not have symptoms while a diagnostic mammogram is used when something is abnormal or difficult to determine. A breast ultrasound will be advised as a follow-up test once an abnormality such as a potential tumor is discovered via a mammogram.