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Breast Cancer Awareness: Early Detection Saves Lives

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women. Although it’s one of the deadliest cancers in the United States, breast cancer is often treatable when detected early.

Mammograms, which are low-dose x-rays of the breast, continue to be vital in the early detection of breast cancer. To learn more, read the publication Mammograms by FDA’s Office of Women’s Health. You can read it online, download it as a PDF, and order print copies for yourself and loved ones.

Visit WomensHealth.gov for additional information about breast cancer, including symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and more.

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and need to have a mastectomy, you have certain rights under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. Learn about what benefits your health plan is required to provide.

Mammograms Help With Breast Cancer Early Detection

October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of the month, the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health developed the Pink Ribbon Sunday program to help educate women across the nation about breast cancer prevention and awareness.

Pink Ribbon Sunday aims to reduce breast cancer health disparities in communities by empowering leaders of local groups and organizations to develop mammography awareness programs that fit the needs of their community. Mammography screening is still the best tool to detect breast cancer early. Lack of screening can lead to later diagnosis, later entry into treatment and increased mortality.

Awareness activities include mobile mammography events, local health fairs or “Pink” luncheons to promote the cause.

The FDA’s Office of Women’s Health has put together information packets for individuals or organizations to distribute in their communities. The packets include a mammography information card, mammography fact sheet and an official Pink Ribbon Sunday flyer.

You can order single copies or if you’re hosting an event, you can order in bulk.

You can also learn more about breast cancer risk factors and possible treatment options.

From the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Women’s Health:

The FDA’s Office of Women’s Health launched the Pink Ribbon Sunday program to educate African American and Hispanic women about early detection of breast cancer through mammography. The program strives to reduce breast cancer health disparities by empowering community leaders to develop mammography awareness programs tailored to the needs of their region. Activities have ranged from mobile mammography events and health fairs to “Pink” luncheons and concerts.

Order your free resources now to begin planning a Pink Ribbon event for your community.

Learn to Recognize Early Signs of Breast Cancer

The best way to find breast cancer early is with a mammogram. If you’re a woman 50 to 74 years old, get a screening mammogram every two years. If you’re 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get a screening mammogram.

Symptoms

When breast cancer starts out, it’s too small to feel. As it grows, breast cancer can cause changes in how the breast looks or feels. Symptoms may include—

  • A new lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
  • 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.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

Where to Get a Mammogram

If you want to be screened for breast cancer, call your doctor’s office. Most health insurance companies pay for screening mammograms. If you have a low income or don’t have health insurance, you may qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

Learn more about breast cancer.