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From the Director's Desk: – Get to know your breasts

Millions of women and thousands of men across the globe have been impacted by breast cancer.

In the U.S., breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women and the second leading cause of death for this group. Research shows that one in eight U.S. women will develop this disease in her lifetime.

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is considered cancer if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body. 

Unfortunately, the exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but there are risk factors that make some people more susceptible to the disease than others. These include:

  • Being a woman,
  • Having a family history of breast cancer,
  • Getting older, (most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50),
  • Experiencing menstrual periods before age 12 and starting menopause after age 55,
  • Having dense breasts,
  • Having a personal history of breast cancer or other non-cancerous breast diseases and
  • Being previously treated through radiation therapy.

Although these risk factors can’t be changed, there are some that can, including getting enough physical activity, losing weight, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key!

So whether you’re at low, moderate or high risk for breast cancer, be aware of your breasts. Becoming familiar with how they look and feel can help you notice symptoms of lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. These changes can be found during a breast self-exam, which every woman is encouraged to do once a month. Other forms of early detection to be aware of include clinical breast exams and mammograms. Click the links to find out how and when these procedures should be performed.

Thanks for stopping by the Director’s Corner, where your health is our priority!