Hundreds of thousands of families receive the crushing news of breast cancer every year. Understanding a few key facts (and myths) about breast cancer before a diagnosis comes can help you and your loved ones have a better chance of catching the disease early when it’s easiest to treat.
FACT: The 5-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 99%.1
Some believe that a breast cancer diagnosis is almost impossible to overcome. Thankfully, in today’s age of preventive screening and state-of-the-art treatment, this is not the case. Approximately 64% of breast cancers are now caught in the localized stage,1 before the cancer has spread to other organs and when the chance of successful treatment is incredibly high.
FACT: Many women show no symptoms of breast cancer.
It’s easy to assume that if you don’t have lumps or pain, there’s no problem—but just because you can’t feel anything in a self-exam, doesn’t mean there’s no cancer. Digital screening mammography can reveal breast tissue abnormalities up to two years before a patient or even a physician can feel them. By the time a lump can be felt, the disease may have spread into the lymph nodes or other areas of the body.
FACT: You don’t have to have a family history to develop breast cancer.
Believe it or not, only 5–10% of breast cancers are considered hereditary.2 Even if you have no close relatives who have been diagnosed, getting regular screening mammograms can help catch breast cancer in its early stages. The American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging recommend all patients undergo a risk assessment at age 30 and those determined to be at average risk begin annual breast cancer screening at age 40.
FACT: If you are at increased risk of breast cancer, there are ways to be proactive.
Worried because your family has struggled with breast cancer? You may benefit from starting mammograms at a younger age. Genetic testing can also help evaluate your risk and determine steps that could be taken such as medications, additional screening tests or possibly even preventive surgery. Women who are considered high risk should start yearly mammograms by age 30 and may benefit from supplemental screening such as breast MRI.
FACT: Men can get breast cancer, too.
Most men would be shocked to hear that they have breast cancer. While male breast cancer is rare, men do have breast tissue, which puts them at risk for the disease. Male breast cancers are difficult to catch early, because men don’t think of breast cancer as something that could affect them. Any changes or lumps in the chest area should be evaluated immediately by a doctor.
Looking for more breast cancer information or considering a breast imaging procedure? The Breast Center of Greensboro Imaging offers exceptional patient care and cutting-edge technology to serve patients’ breast health needs.
1National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., nationalbreastcancer.org
2American Cancer Society, cancer.org