Understanding Breast Cancer

The Facts on Breast Cancer

Risk Factors & Strategies to Reduce Your Risk

The following factors have been shown to increase your risk for Breast Cancer

Modifiable Factors: The following actions are controllable, and therefore, you should do your best to avoid as many of these actions as possible. If something is unavoidable, be conscientious about your other actions to help combat the risk!

Non-Modifiable Factors: The following cannot be changed. However, these factors are important to know, so you can be cognizant of your lifestyle choices and understand the circumstances!

Help reduce your risk for Breast Cancer with these choices

Are You at Risk for Breast Cancer?

Symptoms & Early Detection


Early Symptoms 

  • Increase in size or change in shape of the breast(s)
  • Changes in the appearance of the nipple(s)
  • Pain in the breast area
  • Redness, swelling, or and other visible skin changes

Invasive Breast Cancer Symptoms

  • Change in color of breast 
  • Irritated / itchy breasts 
  • Increase in breast size or shape 
  • Shifts in how the breast feels 
  • Flaking of nipple skin 
  • Breast lumps or thickening 

Early Detection

5-Year Survival Rate by Stage

Percent Diagnosed by Stage

Based on the survival rates by stage, it is very clear that it is extremely important to catch breast cancer early in order to give yourself the best chance for survival, but only a small portion of cases are caught at this stage. How do you ensure breast cancer is caught early if you develop it? Get screened

Who Should be Screened?

  • 40 Years Old: Your first mammogram is recommended at age 40. From this point, discuss with your doctor their recommendations, but ideally your first mammogram should be before your 45 to check for initial abnormalities
  • 45-55 Years Old: During these ages it is recommended that every woman get an annual mammogram to ensure proper structure.
  • 55+ Years Old: You can switch to a mammogram every 2 years, but always discuss a change in your screening protocols with your doctor before carrying out a new strategy.
Screenings are not recommended until age 40. However, if you have concerns with your personal status before that age, always reach out to your doctor to discuss your options.

What to Expect at Your Procedure

Treatments for Breast Cancer

  • Mastectomy: Removal of the breast
  • Lumpectomy: Removal of tumor and tissues surrounding the tumor
  • Chemotherapy: Drugs designed to eliminate cancer cells
  • Radiation Therapy: Beams of high-energy to kill cancer cells
  • Targeted Therapy: Medicines such as TykerbPerjeta, and Herceptin to aid to immune system in eliminating cancer cells
  • Hormone Therapy: Drugs used to prevent hormones from increasing the growth of cancer cells

Nutrition and Cancer

Diet plays a major role in the development of cancer. The foods you eat can either promote cellular damage and increase your risk or protect your cells from damage and reduce your risk. An estimated 30% of cancers are believed to be related to poor dietary habits. (15)

We have compiled a list of foods that should be regularly included in your diet to promote optimal health, including cancer prevention. Learn what you can do to help reduce your risk.

Your Guide to Optimal Nutrition

Additional Resources