Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Patient Education at Southern Regional

Before you can launch an effective battle against breast cancer, it's important to understand the basics. Here you'll find some answers that will help you move forward with a solid grounding in the facts and be able to more effectively fight breast cancer.

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What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. While the majority of new breast cancers are diagnosed as a result of an abnormality seen on a mammogram, a lump or change in consistency of the breast tissue can also be a warning sign of the disease.

Prevention and Detection

Every woman should know about prevention and early detection of breast cancer. Here are some of the basic guidelines.

  • Yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Clinical breast exams (CBE) every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
  • Women should report any breast change promptly to their health care providers.
  • Breast self exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.
  • Women at increased risk (e.g., family history, genetic tendency, past breast cancer) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of starting mammography screening earlier, having additional tests (breast ultrasound or MRI), or having more frequent exams.

Risk Factors

The following risk factors increase the chance of developing breast cancer.

Gender – Being female

Age – Older than 50 years

Family or personal history of breast cancer

Genetic risk factors – About 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary.

Race – White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women. African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Previous breast biopsy – Having a previous biopsy result of atypical hyperplasia increases a woman's breast cancer risk by 4 to 5 times. Having a biopsy specimen diagnosed as fibrocystic changes does not affect breast cancer risk.

Previous breast radiation

Menstrual periods – Women who started menstruating before age 12 or who went through menopause after age 55 have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

Not having children – Women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk.

Hormone-replacement therapy

Alcohol – More than one alcoholic drink a day

Obesity and high-fat diet

Treatment Options

In recent years, there has been an explosion of life-saving treatment advances against breast cancer, bringing new hope and excitement.

Instead of only one or two options, there is now an extensive menu of treatment choices that fight the complex mix of cells in each individual cancer. The decisions-surgery, then perhaps radiation, hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy, and/or chemotherapy-can feel overwhelming.

But we have plenty of resources to help you make informed decisions. For more information and to schedule your appointment, please call (770) 991-8144.