What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we aim to get as many people as possible involved in raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research. There are plenty of ways to get involved, from campaigning to help women get access to the breast cancer drugs they need, to sharing information women need to know about checking their breasts, your support will help to reach the day when breast cancer has claimed its last life.
Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram – the screening test for breast cancer – can help find breast cancer early when it’s easier to treat.National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of detecting breast cancer early. Make a difference! Spread the word about mammograms, and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.
How can National Breast Cancer Awareness Month make a difference? We can use this opportunity to spread the word about steps women can take to detect breast cancer early.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Ask doctors and nurses to speak to women about the importance of getting screened for breast cancer. - Encourage women ages 40 to 49 to talk with their doctors about when to start getting mammograms. - Organize an event to talk with women ages 50 to 74 in your community about getting mammograms every 2 years.
Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of breast health. Finding breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment. But knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer in its early stages, before any symptoms appear.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass, lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
- Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.
- Swollen lymph nodes should also be checked by a health care provider.
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so that the cause can be found.
Because mammograms do not find every breast cancer, it is important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.
Different tests can be used to look for and diagnose breast cancer. If your doctor finds an area of concern on a screening test (a mammogram), or if you have symptoms that could mean breast cancer, you will need more tests to know for sure if it’s cancer.
A biopsy is done when mammograms, other imaging tests, or a physical exam shows a breast change that may be cancer. A biopsy is the only way to know for sure if it’s cancer.