Facebook Pixel

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Rate This

Over the course of a lifetime, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and the risk increases with age. Diagnosing breast cancer early is critical because it is easier to treat and that increases survival rates significantly: 100 percent for stage 0 and I, 92 percent for stage IIA, and 20 percent for stage IV respectively, according to the American Cancer Society.

This means knowing the symptoms, staying vigilant in watching for changes in your breast and getting yearly screening tests after age 40 is essential. Women in the 20s and 30s should get a clinical breast exam at least every three years as part of their regular health exam.

It is important to note that early breast cancer usually does not cause symptoms, which is why screening for the disease is so important. As breast cancer grows common symptoms may include:

  • A lump of thickening in the breast or underarm
  • Tenderness in the breast or nipple
  • A change in breast or nipple shape
  • Nipple discharge, may be bloody, clear-to-yellow, or green
  • Red, swollen, or scaly skin on the breast or nipple
  • Hot, sore, inflamed feeling in the breast

In addition to age, other factors that increase breast cancer risk include a family history of the disease, particularly a mother or sister; A genetic mutation known as the BRCA gene (most common in Eastern European Jewish descent) greatly increases the risk of breast cancer especially if combined with family history. Being overweight, obese and eating a diet high in saturated fat increases the risk; exercising regularly can lower the risk.

The female hormones, particularly estrogen, fuels breast cancer tumor growth so women who get their periods early (before age 12) or went through menopause late (after age 55) have an increased risk for breast cancer, as are women who never had children or began having children late in life. Taking Hormone Replace Therapy (HRT) after menopause is also thought to increase the breast cancer risk. Smoking and consuming more than one alcohol beverage a day also increases a woman’s risk.

Add a Comment2 Comments


The article you refer to cannot be read without signing up for this website.

www.radiologyinfo.org says that the effective radiation dose from a mammogram is about 0.7 mSv, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in three months. Here is their safety page, which lists the amount of radiation received in many X-rays:


And here is the National Cancer Institute's fact sheet on mammograms, which includes the following:

"Radiation exposure — Mammograms (as well as dental x-rays and other routine x-rays) use very small doses of radiation. The risk of any harm is very slight, but repeated x-rays could cause problems. The benefits nearly always outweigh the risk. Women should talk with their health care provider about the need for each x-ray. They should also ask about shielding to protect parts of the body that are not in the picture. In addition, they should always let their health care provider and the technician know if there is any possibility that they are pregnant."


October 2, 2009 - 9:58am
EmpowHER Guest

Women in the country are being sold a dangerous bill of goods! Consider the fact that the routine practice of taking four films of each breast annually results in approximately 1 rad (radiation absorbed dose) exposure, which is about 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray. Even the American Cancer Society lists high-dose radiation to the chest as a medium to high risk factor for developing cancer. Up until 10 years ago, they were telling us that HRT is good for us and prevents cancer. Now it's known to increase cancer risk. 10 years from now, it will be proved out that mammography actually increases the instance of breast cancer! Missing from the health care debate these days is an analysis of the dangerous and false myths that are promoted by the medical establishment! See http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/11/26/why-mammography-is-not-an-effective-breast-cancer-screen.aspx for more info.

October 2, 2009 - 7:47am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Breast Cancer

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Breast Cancer Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!