Breast Cancer Affects Who?

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Diego Ponieman, M.D., M.P.H.October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many of us have been affected by breast cancer in some way – whether personally or through the experience of a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker. And although breast cancer occurs primarily in women, men are at risk too.

You may be wondering what breast cancer even is. Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control, sometimes causing the cells to form a tumor. And there are different kinds of breast cancer dependent on which cells in the breast turn into cancer.

In comparing breast cancer incidences by race and ethnicity, research indicates that:

  • African-American women under age 45 have a higher incidence of breast cancer than white women.
  • Hispanic/Latina women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancers, and also tend to have larger tumors.
  • Asian/Pacific Islander women have lower breast cancer incidences compared to white and black women.

And although you can’t change some factors of avoiding breast cancer, such as getting older or your family history, you can lower your risk by taking care of your health. Here are some steps you can take that can help you reduce your risk of breast cancer:

  • Keep a healthy weight. Make sure to choose foods that will help you maintain a healthy weight and ear five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Exercise regularly. Adults should engage in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days or more a week.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drink intake to no more than one per day.
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
  • Get regular screenings (along with treatment if diagnosed). A regular mammogram, breast MRI, clinical breast exam, or breast self-exam are all options.


In addition, CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals. Find out if you qualify and get tested because taking the time to know what cancer screening tests are right for you as well as getting a regular screening could save your life.





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