Being a woman and getting older are the biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer. Other risk factors include: age; family history of breast cancer in a close family member on either other's or father's side; onset of menstruation before age 12; onset of menopause after age 50; or not having children or having a first child after age 30.
Check the other breast. Some lumpiness is normal. However, if the lump is new or unusual, it warrants examination by a physician. A lump found during a breast self-exam, a clinical breast exam or a mammogram does not necessarily mean that a woman has breast cancer. Nearly 80 percent of all breast lumps are noncancerous (benign). However, cancer is a possibility. Early detection and treatment provides the best outcome, so a woman shouldn't let fear stop her from seeing a physician.
Statistics show that a woman has a 1 in 8 lifetime chance of developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in the United States, other than non-melanoma skin cancers. Three-fourths of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women age 50 and older. And although breast cancer is more common in older women, it does occur in younger women and in men. There are additional factors that may increase a woman's cancer risk.
No one yet knows what causes breast cancer, but medical research has generated a lot of knowledge about the disease. Researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center have made some important discoveries in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, ranging from understanding more about the genetic aspects of cancer to developing a vaccine that may treat and prevent breast cancer. Read more about breakthroughs at The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or thickening in the breast. Other signs include: change in the size or shape of the breast, discharge from the nipple, or change in the color or feel of the skin of the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered or scaly; warm, red or swollen). It's important to note that there may be no warning signs or symptoms. Breast self-exams, clinical breast exams and regularly scheduled mammograms are vital in the screening and early detection of the disease.