What are the risk factors?


What are the warning signs?


What are the recommended steps for early detection?


What are the factors that place a woman at increased risk for breast cancer?


What is the best method of detecting breast cancer as early as possible?


How much does a mammogram cost?

What are the risk factors?



Heredity/Genetic Factors

Long menstrual history

Never having children


Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer

Environmental factors

Early Menopause


*Over 74% of breast cancers are diagnosed in women with no identifiable risk factors.

What are the warning signs?

Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast

Swelling, redness or increased warmth in the breast

Change in the size or shape of the breast

Itchy, sore or scaling area on the nipple/areola

Nipple discharge (particularly if bloody) that starts suddenly

Pulling in of the nipple (inverted nipple) or nipple change direction (retracted nipple)

Dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast

Unusual pain in an area of the breast

What are the recommended steps for early detection?

The best defense against breast cancer starts with you! Sisters Network® Inc. recommends these steps for early detection:

Monthly breast self-exam (BSE) starting at age 20*

Clinical breast examination by a trained medical professional every 2-3 years beginning at age 20, and annually after age 40

Mammography screening every one to two years for women ages 35-40 (If your mother or sister has had breast cancer, you may need to get mammogram earlier and more frequently)

Annual mammography screening for women age 40+**


*BSE should be done just as your period ends or for post-menopausal women, the same day each month. Most women discover breast masses during monthly breast self-examination. This simple and easy to follow examination allows a woman to become more familiar with her breast, making the detection of subtle changes or abnormities easier.


**Women receiving annual mammography screening are 30% less likely to die from breast cancer compared to unscreened women.


***Breast ultrasound is frequently useful in evaluating breast and mammographic abnormalities, especially in young women.

What are the factors that place a woman at increased risk for breast cancer?

Every woman has some risk for developing breast cancer during her lifetime, and that risk increases as she ages. However, the risk of developing breast cancer is not the same for all women. The following are the some factors known to increase a woman's chance of developing this disease:


Personal History: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer. Family History: The risk of getting breast cancer increases for a woman whose mother, sister, or daughter has had the disease; or who has two or more close relatives, such as cousins or aunts, with a history of breast cancer (especially if diagnosed before age 40). About 5 percent of women with breast cancer have a hereditary form of this disease.



Genetic Alterations: Specific alterations in certain genes, such as those in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, make women more susceptible to breast cancer.


Abnormal Biopsy: Women with certain abnormal breast conditions, such as atypical hyperplasia or LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), are at increased risk.


Other conditions associated with an increased risk of breast cancer: Having children at a later age or never having children at all, early onset of menses, taking hormones over an extended period of time, and exposure to environmental hazards.

What is the best method of detecting breast cancer as early as possible?

A high-quality mammogram, with a clinical breast exam, is the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. Using a mammogram, it is possible to detect breast cancer that cannot be felt. However, like any test, mammograms have both benefits and limitations.

How much does a mammogram cost?

Most screening mammograms cost between $50 and $150. Most states now have laws requiring health insurance companies to reimburse all or part of the cost of screening mammograms. Details can be provided by insurance companies and health care providers. Medicare pays 80% of the cost of a screening mammogram each year for beneficiaries age 40 or older. There is no deductible requirement for this benefit, but Medicare beneficiaries are responsible for a 20% co-payment of the Medicare-approved amount. Information on coverage is available through the Medicare Hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE. Some state and local health programs and employers provide mammograms free or at low cost. Information on low-cost or free mammography screening programs is available through the NCI's Cancer Information at 1-800-4-CANCER.

Information Sources

American Cancer Society (ACS) 2007-2008 Cancer Facts & Figures

American Cancer Society (ACS) 2006-2007 Cancer Facts & Figures

American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer Facts in African Americans

National Cancer Institute (NCI)



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