- All women are at risk for breast cancer. The risk increases as you age.
- Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among black women.
- African American/Black women under the age of 40 years of age can have more aggressive tumors and benefit from early detection, frequent breast cancer screenings and medical treatment increases chances of survival.
- Elderly women may be less aware of breast cancer risk factors and delay seeking medical attention. This delay may result in more advanced disease.
- Because of the biological and racial differences in breast cancer mortality, research studies have concluded that early and frequent breast cancer screenings are essential to increasing the survival advantages for black women.
- Not all breast lumps are breast cancer. 80 to 85 percent of breast lumps are noncancerous, especially in women younger than age 40.
- Do a regular self-exam, checking for any unusual changes such as:
- Changes and lumps on the inside or outside of your breasts, chest, pectoral muscles, collarbone, nipples, torso, or underarms.
- Strange discharge or fluid from the nipples that is bloody, clear, or pus-like that smells foul.
- Skin changes that are bumpy, dark, different color, itchy, painful, puckered, rash-like, redness, sores, ulcers, shrunken, swollen, or tender.
- Men can also develop breast cancer. The signs and symptoms are the same as those for women.
- Fortunately, survival rates are increasing due to improved breast cancer detection, as well as advances in breast cancer treatment.
Your Action Plan
Take charge of your breast health with a plan of action:
- Monthly Breast Self-Exam (BSE) starting at age 15. Ask your health provider to show you how to do a proper BSE.
- Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) annually by your health care provider.
- Screening Mammogram, every year starting at 35 years of age.
- Learn about your family’s cancer history and genetics, specifically cancer of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate that are gene and hormone related.
- Reduce your alcohol and fat intake, reduce your weight, and increase your exercise.
- See your doctor ASAP. Early detection, diagnosis, and medical treatments help increase positive outcomes and survival.
- See video to learn how to check your breasts: “How to do a Self-Breast Exam”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clOEgvgUxfk
- Contact us, [email protected] or call 612-462-6813
Questions to ask your doctor
If any abnormal changes are found, a biopsy will be needed to find if cancer is present. Ask the doctor the following questions:
- What type of biopsy will be done?
- What kind of breast change or lump do I have?
- How soon will I know the results?
- If I do have cancer, what happens next?
- Are more tests needed? What kind?
- What is the grade and stage?
- Who will talk with me about treatment and what are my choices?
You also have a right to seek a second opinion, get answers you can understand and receive proper medical care.
You are not alone. There are many resources in your community to help you find information about breast cancer, medical treatments, networking and support.