Breast cancer happens when cells develop into a growth in your breast, growing abnormally and out of control. If left unchecked or if nothing can be done about it, it will spread to the rest of your body. It can be a terrifying scenario and a serious concern for many women and even some men. It normally occurs or is otherwise spotted, in women who are older (though on rare occasions, it does occur in men).
Early signs of breast cancer
Approximately 1 in 8 women are expected to get breast cancer on average, and those odds are even higher for women who have a family history of the disease. While it can’t be prevented, knowing the signs and staying on top of screenings are the best ways to catch it early. A lump is the most common symptom of breast cancer, but the itching, redness, and even changes to the nipple can also mean trouble.
Click here to learn more about how to detect breast cancer, when to talk to your doctor, and what to do if you’ve been diagnosed.
Should I be screened for breast cancer?
Confused about which type of breast cancer screening is right for you? Unsure about how often you need to do it? You’re not alone—even the experts have a hard time agreeing on guidelines. Factors such as your age, family history, and even breast density should play a part in your decision. The one thing everyone can agree on is that early detection saves lives. Take the test to learn your personal risk level.
Then learn about the types of breast cancer screening, here, and see how often you should be screened.
Your family history and breast cancer
The number of people in your family who had breast cancer can help you and your doctor determine how often you should get checked for breast cancer. But did you know that your family’s history of ovarian cancer matters too? In fact, your likelihood of developing breast cancer increases even if you have had only one or two family members who have developed it. Tell your doctor if any of your relatives—especially parents, sisters, brothers, and your children—have had either of these cancers and how old they were when they found out.
Learn more about how family history affects your chances of getting breast and ovarian cancer, here.
The rarest form of breast cancer
You may not have a lump in your breast, but you should tell your doctor any time you notice any changes. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, but because many women don’t know how to recognize it and mammograms have a hard time seeing it, it sometimes gets missed. If your breast is swollen, red, painful, or itchy, or if the skin looks thick and pitted (similar to an orange peel), talk to your doctor right away.
You can learn more information about inflammatory breast cancer, including the symptoms, here.