Second to lung cancer, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women. According to the American Cancer Society, there is a one in 38 chance that a woman will die from breast cancer each year.

Breast cancer begins like any other cancer with cells beginning to grow out of control and create a mass or tumor.

How Do I Know That it Could be Breast Cancer?

Sometimes, breast cancer has outward signs that you can see or feel. These signs may include:

  • A lump, an area of thickening or a dimple in the breast
  • Breast swelling and redness
  • An enlarged underarm lymph node
  • Nipple pain, changes in the shape of the nipple or spontaneous nipple discharge
  • Breast pain (although this is usually not the first sign of cancer)

It is important to note that there are benign (non-cancerous) breast tumors. However, if you see or feel any changes to your breast, contact your health care provider to schedule a mammogram or other diagnostic test.

What Are the Most Common Types of Breast Cancer?

While there are other types of breast cancer, the vast majority of breast cancers are:

  1. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
  2. Ductal carcinoma in situ
  3. Invasive lobular carcinoma

Each type differs in how it presents itself, how treatable it is and how fast it can spread.

What Are the Risks of Developing Breast Cancer?

Some of the risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Getting older
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Smoking
  • Excessive weight, especially after menopause
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • First full-term pregnancy after 30
  • Never giving birth
  • Early start of menstruation

When Should I Get My First Mammogram?

The American College of Radiology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network still recommend that women with average risk start screening mammography at age 40 and continue annually thereafter. However, your doctor may order a mammogram before age 40 if you are at higher risk for breast cancer or if you experience symptoms.

If you’re wondering what the mammogram experience is like, check out this blog post on, “What you should expect at my first mammogram.”

Men Can’t Get Breast Cancer … right?

While many breast cancer patients are women, men are not exempt from this disease. In fact, men have a small amount of breast tissue inside of their chest wall.

Breast cancers in men are often more aggressive and are often identified at later stages.

Most men do not need screening, but for those with a strong family history or a personal history of past treated breast cancer, screening should be considered.

UofL Health is here for all of your breast health needs. We have comprehensive services, such as 3D mammography options, breast ultrasounds and stereotactic biopsies. Mammography and other breast services are offered in seven convenient locations across Jefferson County, Shepherdsville and Shelbyville.

If you would like to schedule your breast cancer screening, please call 502-681-1405.

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Article by: Ian Morley, M.D.

Ian Morley, M.D., is a breast radiologist and associate director of breast imaging at UofL Health. He sees patients at UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, Medical Center East and Medical Center Northeast. He specializes in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer through mammography and breast MRI, ultrasound and biopsy. He attended the University of Louisville for medical school and completed an internship in Chicago at Resurrection Medical Center. He completed residency at Loyola University Medical Center in diagnostic radiology and fellowship at Indiana University in breast imaging.

All posts by Ian Morley, M.D.
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