Commit to practicing breast cancer awareness all year long

October 31, 2015 | by Valerie Howard

Breast cancer awareness shouldn’t be limited to the month of October, not with breast cancer the second-leading cause of cancer death among women and an estimated 231,840 American women expected to be diagnosed each year.  Here are important breast cancer facts, symptoms and risk factors worth remembering, all year long.

Breast cancer facts:

  • About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, behind skin cancer.
  • An estimated 232,670 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year.
  • Two of three breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
  • Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
  • An estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors live in the U.S.
  • Breast cancer survivorship has tripled over the past 60 years.

Risk factors for breast cancer:
  • Gender: A woman is 200 times more likely than a man to develop breast cancer.
  • Age: Risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older, and half of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women older than 60.
  • Genetics: About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from gene defects inherited from a parent.
  • Family history: Risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease.
  • Weight: Being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk.
  • Race: Overall, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer.
  • Breast density: Having dense breasts makes your chance of developing breast cancer four times higher.

How to reduce your risk:
  • Know your family history. 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary. If you have family history of breast cancer, speak with your doctor about whether or not to undergo additional screening, to improve your chances of early detection.
  • Eat well. Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily, limiting processed and red meats. Choose whole grains.
  • Get screened. Have annual mammograms and clinical breast exams beginning at 45.
  • Watch weight: Women who gained 21 to 30 pounds since age 18 were 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who hadn’t gained more than five pounds.
  • Stay active. Women who walk briskly for 1.25 to 2.5 hours a week had an 18 percent lower risk than women who are inactive.
  • Watch your alcohol use. Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day. Any more than that increases risk by 1.5 times compared to someone who doesn’t drink.

Possible breast cancer symptoms:
  • Swelling in all or part of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple dischargee


Feel free to download and reproduce our breast cancer infographic for breast cancer health and education purposes.

Learn more about breast cancer treatment and research at City of Hope. Read about our unique patient experience, how to make an appointment or get a second opinion at City of Hope. You may also request a new patient appointment online or call 800-826-HOPE (4673) for more information.

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