According to the American Cancer Society statistics in 2008, there will be 182,460 new cases of breast cancerdiagnosed.
That translates into a risk of one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Cancer occurs when the body's cells grow out of control andmultiply haphazardly. They form a mass or lump that pushes aside normal tissue.
These abnormal cells can break free and relocate to another part of the body. They can implant and start to grow new tumors; this is called metastasis.
Metastatic tumors interfere with an organ's normal function, and eventually cause it to fail.
Some risk factors for developing breast cancer include: female gender (women are more likely than men to get breast cancer,) increased age, genetic or inherited mutations, family or personal history of breast cancer, history of an abnormal breast biopsy and prior history of breast radiation.
Less than 25 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of it.
When diagnosed, early breast cancer can have a greater than90 percent cure rate.
If the lymph nodes areinvolved, the cure rate decreasesto 70 percent.
The greatest chance to cure breast cancer is when it is diagnosed early.
The current guidelines for breast evaluation include yearly screening mammography, beginning at the age of 40.
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical exam by a health professional at least every three years, and after the age of 40 it should be done yearly.
Women should begin examining their own breast (breast self exam) at the age of 20.
What are you looking for?
Simply stated, you are looking for any changes in the breast.
By repeated exams you will become familiar with what is normal for your breast.
If you should notice a change, such as the development of a lump or swelling, skin irritation ordimpling, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or adischarge other than breast milk, you need to bring it to the attention of your physician immediately.
Most of the time these findings will not be from cancer, but they must be investigated.