Breast Cancer Facts

All women are at risk for breast cancer – even those who don’t have a family history of the disease. That’s why it’s important to remind the women you know – your mother, aunt, grandmother, best friend, daughter – of the facts about breast cancer.

Finding It Early Matters ~ Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. In fact, one of every eight women will develop the disease. While we are learning more and more about breast cancer, a woman’s best defense is finding the cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage.

Today, the best method of early detection is a three-pronged approach: annual mammograms for women starting at age 40; clinical breast exams by a health care professional annually for women age 40 or older, every three years for women in their 20s and 30s; breast self-examinations optional for women starting in their 20s. If you are 40 or older, mammograms are extremely important, because they can detect abnormalities in the breast several years before you or your doctor can feel a lump.

There Is Help ~ If breast cancer has touched your life, you are not alone. The American Cancer Society offers a wide range of information to help patients and their families make decisions about their treatment. The Society also has a number of programs to help patients and family cope with the disease, including a program that matches patients with survivors who have “been there”.

The American Cancer Society recommends women do the following:

~ Get annual mammograms starting at age 40.

~ Have yearly clinical breast examinations by a health care professional close to the time of your mammogram beginning at age 40, as well as continue your monthly self-examinations.

~ Receive clinical breast examinations from a health care professional every three years between the ages of 20 and 39.

~ Begin monthly breast self-examinations at age 20 (optional).


1. All women are at risk for breast cancer, even those who have no family history of the disease.

2. The two greatest risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and growing older.

3. Survival rates are high for women diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer, when the cancer is small and has not spread. Get regular mammograms beginning at age 40, and start clinical breast exams by your doctor at age 20.  Although it is optional, monthly breast self- examinations are also recommended.

4. Smart strategies to reduce your risk of breast cancer include regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol intake.

5. As women are becoming more educated about breast cancer, death rates for the disease are dropping.