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Facts for Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about a disease that affects women and their families across the globe.

As part of Health Edco’s commitment to women’s health education, we have a wide selection of women’s breast health education materials and models that are ideal resources to teach women about breast health, breast self-awareness, and signs of breast cancer to help catch breast cancer in its earliest stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

Read on to learn more about breast cancer awareness and Health Edco’s breast health education resources.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when cells grow out of control in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body through blood vessels and lymph vessels. Most breast cancers begin in the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands in the breasts, or the ducts, which are tubes in the breasts that carry milk to the nipple.

How Many Women in the United States Are Affected by Breast Cancer?

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among American women.

Today, about 12.4 percent of women (about 1 in 8) in the United States are expected to develop breast cancer during their lifetime. The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age. For example, about 1 in 68 women is expected to receive a breast cancer diagnosis during her 40s compared with about 1 in 28 women during her 60s. This year, about 268,600 women in the United States are expected to receive a breast cancer diagnosis, and nearly 42,000 women are expected to die from the disease.

Fortunately, there is plenty of good news about breast cancer. Death rates in the United States for female breast cancer are decreasing. Nearly 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive 5 years later. When breast cancer is caught early, before it has spread, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 99 percent. More than 60 percent of female breast cancers in the United States are caught at a local stage, before they have spread.

Our Breast Care Folding Display provides an overview
of breast health and breast self-awareness.

Can Men Get Breast Cancer?

Although male breast cancer is rare, men can get breast cancer. Even though men don’t have female breasts, they do have breast tissue—usually a small amount located under the nipple and areola (the darker area around the nipple). It is estimated that more than 2,600 new cases of male breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. To learn more about male breast cancer, click here.

Do Gene Mutations Cause Most Cases of Breast Cancer?

Inherited gene mutations, including BRCA1 or BRCA2, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer among both women and men. However, these gene mutations are thought to account for no more than 10 percent of all breast cancer cases. Genetic tests are sometimes performed for people in families with a high incidence of cancer. Because the risk of breast cancer increases for women as they age, age is the strongest risk factor for breast cancer. Among women in the United States, female breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 55 and 64. The median age of diagnosis is 62.

Do Certain Lifestyle Habits Affect Breast Cancer Risk?

Certain lifestyle habits can affect a woman’s risk for breast cancer. For example, the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her risk for breast cancer. Women who are physically inactive over the course of their lifetimes may be at increased risk. Postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese also may be at increased risk for breast cancer.

Our Learn the Importance of Mammography Display helps explain
the role of mammograpms in early breast cancer detection.

What Is a Mammogram?

Mammography is the most common test used to screen for breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that uses a very low dose of radiation. During a mammogram, each breast is compressed between two plates while X-rays are taken from different angles.

Mammography has certain limitations. It may fail to catch certain cancers, or it may indicate the presence of a cancerous tumor that additional testing will find not to be cancerous. However, mammography is still considered to be the best way to detect breast cancer in its early stages. A woman should discuss mammography with her healthcare professional as well as a breast cancer screening schedule that is right for her.

Available with brown or beige models, our Multi-Type BSE Model
has informational background art in both English and Spanish.

What Are Fibrocystic Changes?

Fibrocystic breasts tend to feel lumpy. At least half of all women may experience fibrocystic changes at some time in their lives from their 20s to their 50s. If symptoms do occur, they tend to be more noticeable before menstruation. Symptoms generally include lumpiness, thickenings, tenderness, pain, and cysts. Some women describe fibrocystic tissue as having a “ropy” or granular feel.

Having fibrocystic breasts does not increase the risk for breast cancer, but fibrocystic changes might make it more difficult for a woman to feel any abnormal changes in her breast. It is important for every woman to be aware of the normal look and feel of her breasts so that she can alert her healthcare professional if she finds any changes.

What Is Breast Self-Awareness?

Breast self-awareness simply means becoming familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts so that you can report any changes you notice right away to your healthcare professional. Being breast self-aware, along with having regularly scheduled clinical exams by your healthcare professional and mammograms, can help find breast cancer early, when treatment may be more successful.

How Can Health Edco BSE Models Support Breast Self-Awareness?

Breast self-examination (BSE) can play an important role in breast self-awareness by helping women become familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts. To learn more about how to perform BSE, click here.

Health Edco has a time-tested tradition of creating BSE models that are effective and innovative teaching tools for teaching breast self-exam as a part of breast self-awareness. In 1975, we introduced our first BSE model made of BIOLIKE™, a unique polymer that feels like human skin. We’ve perfected our materials since then, culminating most recently in our newest breast health education resource, our Deluxe Breast Self-Exam Model, which was created with durability and realism in mind.

Our Deluxe Breast Self-Exam Model features
non-palpable as well as palpable lumps.

Our BSE models are great resources for teaching women how to perform regular breast self-exams, feel for breast lumps, and look for breast changes. Each of our BSE models contains palpable lumps. Our BSE models that also include non-palpable lumps help underscore the importance of mammography in tumors that cannot be felt.

What Are Some Possible Signs of Breast Cancer?

It is not possible to determine the exact nature any change in your breast simply by touch or appearance. Any change in the appearance or feel of the breast should be reported to a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis. Report these and any other breast changes to your healthcare professional:

  • A lump in the breast or armpit area

  • A puckering of the skin of the breast

  • An unusual change in the size or shape of a breast

  • An unusual swelling of the upper arm

  • An enlargement of lymph nodes

  • A change in the skin or inward turn of the nipple

  • A dimpling on the skin of the breast or nipple

  • Any unusual discharge from the nipple

  • Accentuated veins on the surface of the breast

Learn More

To learn more about breast cancer and the breast cancer screening schedule that is right for you, talk to your healthcare professional.

To learn more about our wide selection of breast self-exam models and other breast health education products, please visit our Women’s Health Education Resources Section.

©2019 Health Edco®