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Breast Cancer

Overview

Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but 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 genes that greatly increase the risk. Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
  • Personal factors — beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55

Other risks include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35, or 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. The key is to find breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Men can have breast cancer, too, but the number of cases is small.

Source: MedlinePlus

Note: This topic was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

Recommended Reading

Breast Cancer, National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, offers information on clinical trials, questions to ask your doctor, breast cancer reconstruction and recovery, and more. Información en Español.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
This site includes patient information and reports on current clinical trials and research findings. The Komen Foundation supports breast cancer research and community outreach across the country. The site provides information for patients, survivors and co-survivors. It also features an interactive program for information on risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options. Información en Español.

Breastcancer.org
This consumer site dedicated to breast cancer education offers a wealth of information, discussion boards and chat rooms for people with breast cancer, a diagnosis and treatment dictionary as well as information on risk and prevention.

Breast Cancer, American Cancer Society
This link to the American Cancer Society website offers information on breast cancer risk and prevention, early detection and diagnosis, treatment, reconstructive surgery, and living as a breast cancer survivor.

Understand and Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer

Early detection through screening increases treatment options and improves the chances for successful treatment and survival. For breast cancer, the overall relative five-year survival rate, which accounts for the normal life expectancy of people matched for age and gender, is 88 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

Prevention and Causes, National Cancer Institute
This link to the National Cancer Institute website includes a wealth of articles that explore tamoxifen, gene testing and risk factors, including secondhand smoke, antibiotics use, use of oral contraceptives and breast implants.

Tests and Diagnosis, Mayo Clinic
This page discusses various tests for breast cancer diagnosis, including mammograms.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mammography Quality Standards Act, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
This page answers frequently asked questions about the quality of mammograms and mammography facilities, in addition to basics about mammography.

Procedure for Breast Self-Examination, MedlinePlus Health Information
This page offers photos showing how to perform a breast self-exam as well as written instructions.

Breast Exam, Mayo Clinic
This article offers information about techniques for doing a breast self-exam and addresses the pros and cons of self-exams.

Information and Support for People with Breast Cancer

Free Publications on Breast Cancer, National Cancer Institute
This link takes you to a list of cancer publications by the National Cancer Institute. Many are available in Spanish. Search specifically for breast cancer. Publication topics include cancer pain, advanced cancer, chemotherapy, eating hints, home care, support for children and parents, recurring cancer and support for people with cancer and the people who care about them.

Local Resources

Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center
This local organization provides support services to women in northern Colorado as they progress through treatment for breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers. The group also helps provide access to complementary care services that insurance may not cover, as well as wigs for patients undergoing chemo. People interested in applying for services may call 970-225-6200 or fill out a client information form online using the link above.

Breast Health Services, UCHealth
This link to the University of Colorado Health website explains what breast health services are offered. UCHealth also has the Pink Life Saver mobile mammogram bus. Services are provided primarily in the Denver area, although the bus also stops at locations in northern Colorado periodically. For more information and to check the schedule, call 720-848-1030 or go to www.uchealth.org/services/radiology/mobile-mammography-the-pink-life-saver.

Women's Wellness Connection
Larimer County has several healthcare providers that participate in the Womens' Wellness Connection. Eligible Colorado women with limited income and limited or no insurance may receive free clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams and Pap tests.

Financial Assistance with Living Expenses, Sense of Security
Sense of Security is an organization in Colorado that provides comprehensive, sustained financial assistance with basic living expenses for the duration of treatment to relieve financial stress and ensure energy is spent on healing and recovery. The organization is funded exclusively by donations from individuals, foundation grants and special-event proceeds.

Other Resources

National Breast Cancer Coalition
The National Breast Cancer Coalition is a grassroots advocacy effort in the fight against breast cancer. Its mission is to eradicate breast cancer through action and advocacy. Its three main goals are research, access and influence.

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