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Breast Cancer Information

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. However, with early detection screenings and improved treatment, the cure rate for breast cancer detected in the early stage can be as high as 97 percent.

Early Detection
Following these American Cancer Society's (ACS) guidelines improves the chances that breast cancer can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated successfully.

  • A monthly breast self-examination for women 20 and older.
  • Breast examination by a physician every three years for women age 20-39; annually beginning at age 40.
  • An annual mammogram beginning at age 40.

These guidelines are for women without risk factors or symptoms of breast cancer. Women with certain risk factors, such as family history, should following a screening schedule recommended by their physician.

Who's at Risk
Risk factors for breast cancer which cannot be changed include: Gender: While breast cancer can affect men, it is 100 times more common among women.

  • Age: About 77 percent of women are over age 50 at the time of diagnosis.
  • Family history: Women with a mother, sister or daughter who has breast cancer have double the risk themselves.
  • Personal history: A woman with cancer in one breast has an increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast.
  • Race: Caucasian women are at a slightly higher risk.
  • Menstrual periods: Women who started menstruating before age 12 or who went through menopause after age 50 have a slightly higher risk.

There are also lifestyle-related risk factors for breast cancer. For example, women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher risk. Use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, as is obesity, particularly after menopause. If you use estrogen replacement therapy, talk to your doctor about the possibilities of increased breast cancer risk.

Warning Signs
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. Other signs include a generalized swelling of part of a breast (even is no distinct lump is felt), skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or retraction (turning inward), redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk. Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to and enlarge underarm lymph nodes, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt. Women should report any of these warning signs to their physician immediately.

Individuals with breast cancer have access to leading-edge diagnostic and treatment services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center and Morris Hospital. Both hospitals offer surgical treatment and inpatient care for cancer patients and are accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. In addition, patients have access to the region's most advanced treatment options, including outpatient chemotherapy, as well as internal and external radiation therapy, through Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center's Sister Theresa Cancer Care Center, where a team of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons and other medical and clinical specialists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for each cancer patient.

If you are a woman, be sure to follow the American Cancer Society's guidelines for early breast cancer detection and talk with your physician if you are at risk for breast cancer. It could save your life.
A special acknowledgement to the American Cancer Society.


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