On average, every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

This year alone, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and 2,620 in men in the United States.

October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Galveston County Health District is encouraging women and men to practice early detection and treatment.

Fewer cases of breast cancer are being diagnosed in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your mammogram was postponed due to the pandemic, reschedule now. You don’t want to delay early detection and a diagnosis.

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common for women in this country. In fact, the two most common risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older. Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors and no history of the disease in their families.

Women ages 50-74 are recommended to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you’re 40-49, talk with your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.

RISK FACTORSThe risk of breast cancer hasn’t changed for women, overall, in the last decade, but the risk has increased for Black, Asian and Pacific Islander women. Black women have a higher risk of death from breast cancer than white women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Risk factors you cannot change include age, genetic mutations, reproductive history, personal medical history and family medical history.

There are risk factors you can control. Those include not being physically active, being overweight or obese after menopause, taking hormones, reproductive history and drinking alcohol. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight, plus being physically active and following a healthy eating pattern can help reduce breast cancer risk.


Symptoms and signs include: swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt); skin dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel); breast or nipple pain; nipple retraction (turning inward); nipple or breast skin that’s red, dry, flaking or thickened; nipple discharge (other than breast milk); and swollen lymph nodes.

These symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer; however, if you have them, they should be reported to your health care provider.

Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.

Eileen Dawley is the chief nursing officer of the Galveston County Health District.


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