The Breast Cancer Foundation, Cayman Islands

Understanding Breast Cancer – Signs and Symptons

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Early Detection – The Breast Self Exam

Breast self-exam (BSE) is a tool that may help you become familiar with the way your breasts normally look and feel. Knowing what is normal for you may help you see or feel changes in your breast.

Most women under 40 will not get a regular mammogram, so it is no surprise that 82% of women under 40 find their own lump or symptom of breast cancer.

Recommended Screening Guidelines:

Mammography. The most important screening test for breast cancer is the mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It can detect breast cancer up to two years before the tumor can be felt by you or your doctor.

Women age 40 – 45 or older who are at average risk of breast cancer should have a mammogram once a year.

Women at high risk should have yearly mammograms along with an MRI starting at age 30.

Some Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

The following are some of the known risk factors for breast cancer. However, most cases of breast cancer cannot be linked to a specific cause. Talk to your doctor about your specific risk.

  • Age. The chance of getting breast cancer increases as women age. Nearly 80 percent of breast cancers are found in women over the age of 50.
  • Personal history of breast cancer. A woman who has had breast cancer in one breast is at an increased risk of developing cancer in her other breast.
  • Family history of breast cancer. A woman has a higher risk of breast cancer if her mother, sister or daughter had breast cancer, especially at a young age (before 40). Having other relatives with breast cancer may also raise the risk.
  • Genetic factors. Women with certain genetic mutations, including changes to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, are at higher risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. Other gene changes may raise breast cancer risk as well.
  • Childbearing and menstrual history. The older a woman is when she has her first child, the greater her risk of breast cancer.
  • Also at higher risk are:
    • Women who menstruate for the first time at an early age (before 12)
    • Women who go through menopause late (after age 55)
    • Women who’ve never had children