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Basic Information About Breast Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women.

Each year in the United States, about 237,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,100 in men. About 41,000 women and 450 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Over the last decade, the risk of getting breast cancer has not changed for women overall, but the risk has increased for black women and Asian and Pacific Islander women. Black women have a higher risk of death from breast cancer than white women.

The risk of getting breast cancer goes up with age. In the United States, the average age when women are diagnosed with breast cancer is 61. Men who get breast cancer are diagnosed usually between 60 and 70 years old.

Medical illustration of the breast

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer.

Photo of a woman experiencing breast pain

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have symptoms at all. See a list of possible symptoms.

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What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?

Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older.

Photo of two young women jogging

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Breast Cancer?

Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health.

Photo of a breast cancer survivor, her sister, and her aunt

Who Is at High Risk for Breast Cancer?

If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, you may have a high risk of getting breast cancer.

Photo of a woman getting a mammogram

What Is Breast Cancer Screening?

Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. All women need to be informed by their health care provider about the best screening options for them.

Photo of a woman getting a mammogram

What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early.

Photo of a woman talking to her doctor

What Are the Benefits and Risks of Screening?

Every screening test has benefits and risks, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before getting any screening test, like a mammogram.

Photo of a breast cancer patient receiving an MRI

How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer. They may refer women to a breast specialist or a surgeon.

Photo of a breast cancer patient in a hospital talking to her doctor

How Is Breast Cancer Treated?

Breast cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of breast cancer and how far it has spread. People with breast cancer often get more than one kind of treatment.

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