Breast Cancer

Last updated: April 11, 2019

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women and is the second most common cause of cancer death among women. Although breast cancer in men is rare, it does happen. About 1 percent of all breast cancers occur in men. Survival is highest when breast cancer is detected early.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Research has shown that women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease.

Demographic Risk Factors:

  • Female gender
  • Advancing age
  • Personal or family history (first-degree relative)
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Genetics (BRCA mutations)

Reproductive Risk Factors:

  • Early age of menarche
  • Late age of first birth
  • Few or no pregnancies
  • No breastfeeding
  • Late age at menopause

Lifestyle Risk Factors:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Alcohol consumption

Other Risk Factors:

  • History of radiation
  • Hormonal therapy use

Symptoms of Breast Cancer Include:

  • new lump and/or pain in the breast or underarm.
  • thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
  • irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
  • pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
  • nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
  • any change in the size or the shape of the breast.

Screening is the best way to detect breast cancer. If you have any signs that worry you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations:

  • A regular clinical breast exam by a health care professional. A clinical breast exam is an examination to feel for lumps or other changes.
  • Beginning at age 40, discuss mammography with your doctor to understand the benefits and risks and to determine what is best for you.
  • By age 50, all women should receive regular mammograms. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are the best method to detect breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. A mammogram can often detect a lump two years before it can be felt.
  • Know what is normal for you. Talk to your doctor about any changes you notice.

No or Low-cost Screening for Eligible Residents

You can receive free breast exams and mammograms through the Anne Arundel County Department of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at 410-222-6180. You will speak directly and confidentially to staff who will help determine if you are eligible for free services. After receiving all required paperwork, you will be scheduled for your well-woman screening appointments. Services are offered by a network of highly skilled, private county health care providers.

You can get the free or low cost services if you:

  • are 40 years or older,
  • have a limited yearly income*,
  • have no health insurance or have an insurance program that does not cover mammograms, and
  • are a resident of Anne Arundel County.

*Income eligibility changes slightly each year and is based on U.S. federal government guidelines.

More Information

For information regarding women’s health, order a FREE Women’s Health Kit online, request one from the Learn To Live Line at 410-222-7979 or email hdltl@aacounty.org. Include your complete name and address.

Helpful Links

Breast Cancer in Spanish

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