Breast cancer is the most common cancer that women may face in their lifetime (except for skin cancer).
It can occur at any age, but it is much more likely to occur after age 40 and as you get older. Because of certain factors, some women may have a greater chance of having breast cancer than others.
But if you are getting older, you should know about breast cancer and what you can do about it.
What You Can Do
The best defense is to find breast cancer as early as possible, when it is easier to treat. Finding breast cancer early is called "early detection."
The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early detection:
* Women should have mammograms each year starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as they are in good health.
* A breast exam by a doctor or nurse should be part of a regular health exam and should be done at least every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older.
* Women should report any breast change to their doctors without delay. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
The American Cancer Society also recommends that some women -- because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors -- be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small -- less than two percent of all the women in the United States.)
Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.
For more information, please call the American Cancer Society or see our document called Breast Cancer: Early Detection.
Editor's Note: This message provided by the American Cancer Society. They can be reached by phone at 1-800-ACS-2345 or online at www.cancer.org.