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The most common cancer among women in the United States is breast cancer. Approximately 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. However, millions of women are surviving this disease thanks to early detection and improvements in treatment.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Most people are aware of breast cancer, but forget to take the steps to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.

It is still a mystery as to why some women get breast cancer. However, there are a number of risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include:
  • Age – The chance of getting breast cancer rises as a woman gets older.
  • Genes – There are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 that greatly increase the risk. Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
  • Personal factors – Beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55.
Other risk factors include:
  • being overweight
  • using hormone replacement therapy (menopausal hormone therapy)
  • taking birth control pills
  • drinking alcohol
  • not having children or having your first child after age 35
  • having dense breasts.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exam and mammography can help find breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

The American Cancer Society is actively fighting breast cancer by helping women get tested, helping them understand their treatment options and to also cope with the physical and emotional effects. Whether you’re trying to reduce your risk of breast cancer, increase the chance of early detection, or coping with a diagnosis, the American Cancer Society has comprehensive information to help you understand your options. To learn more about the American Cancer Society and the fight against breast cancer please visit http://www.cancer.org/healthy/morewaysacshelpsyoustaywell/breastcancer.