Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Breast Cancer is so common among women that 1 in 8 will be diagnosed in their lifetime and it is the second leading cause of death in women.  The good news is that the death rate from breast cancer has declined 34% since 1990 due to better screening, earlier detection and improved treatments. 

What puts a person at risk for developing breast cancer?
While there are risk factors associated with breast cancer (being a woman, over 55 years old, have a family history of breast cancer, never having given birth, to name a few), 60- 70% of people with breast cancer have no connection to the risk factors.  According to common myths of things that cause breast cancer include wearing underwire bras, implants, deodorants, antiperspirants, mammograms, caffeine, plastic food serving items, microwaves, and cell phones.

Men are not immune to breast cancer and approximately 2,200 men will be diagnosed each year.  Breast cancer in men has a higher fatality rate because it often goes undetected longer.  Men should also be aware of the signs of breast cancer.

How do you know if you have breast cancer?

Most of the time, there are no symptoms of having breast cancer, however there are signs you can look for.  Signs include a lump or swelling in the breast, a change in breast size or shape, swelling in the armpit or discharge from the nipple.

In the past, providers have recommended doing monthly self-breast exams to search for any lumps or abnormalities.  It is now more common for providers to advise being familiar with your own breasts so that when changes happen, you notice them more quickly.  This may be done by a monthly breast exam, but not necessarily.

It is also important to note that just because there is a lump does not mean it is cancerous. 

Performing a Self-Breast Exam
There are many great resources online to show you how to perform a self-breast exam.  We suggest following one of the links below for a step-by-step guide (pictures included).

National Breast Cancer Foundation:     

Famous People with Breast Cancer
Angelina Jolie post surgery

Many women in the media have had breast cancer including singer Sheryl Crow, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, TODAY show host Hoda Kotb, Greasestar Olivia Newton-John, and former first lady Nancy Regan.  Actress Angelina Jolie and former America‚Äôs Got Talent co-host Sharon Osborne both elected to have a double mastectomy because they carry the gene that has been linked to breast cancer.  Neither were diagnosed, but had the surgery as a precaution.

For more information on breast cancer, including ways to be involved in promoting awareness, visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org
Abramovitch, S. (2013, May 14). They stand with angelina: 12 courageous celebrities who battled breast cancer. Retrieved from
Anderson, T. (2013). 10 celebrities who battled breast cancer. Retrieved from,,20307103,00.html
Movva, S. (2013, August 21). A visual guide to breast cancer. Retrieved from
National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2012). Breast self exam. Retrieved from 
Simon, S. (2013, October 1). Report: Breast cancer death rates down 34% since 1990. Retrieved from