October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
What You Need to Know
- Approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the second-most deadly cancer among women in the United States.
- Annual mammograms are recommended for women over 40 and younger women with specific breast cancer risk factors.
- While breast cancer in men is uncommon, it most commonly affects men between the ages of 60 and 70.
- Warning signs and symptoms for breast cancer can vary greatly. If you experience any changes in the breast, nipple, or underarm, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- Learn more about breast cancer in the Johns Hopkins Health Library.
Battling Breast Cancer: Pam Vierra's Story
Pam Vierra, a mother of three from central Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hear Pam's story of healing.
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
Breast imaging expert Dr. Cecilia Brennecke explains screening mammography guidelines and what to expect.
Upcoming Facebook Chat: Lisa Jacobs, M.D.
Q: What are the best preventative measures I can take for breast cancer?
A: There isn't a definitive prevention method for breast cancer, but early detection is very important. Perform regular self-exams and receive exams from your primary care doctor. Women over the age of 40 should receive yearly mammograms, and women with specific breast cancer risk factors (strong family history of breast cancer, mutation of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, etc.) may need additional screening with MRI.
Q: If I tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, do I need to have a bilateral mastectomy?
A: Women with a BRCA mutation do have a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer, and many do choose to have bilateral mastectomies as a preventive measure. However having a BRCA mutation, however, does NOT mean that you have to get a mastectomy. Close screening and surveillance with mammogram and MRI alternating every six months is equally acceptable. If a breast cancer does develop, women with a BRCA mutation are still good candidates for breast-conserving therapy.
Q: If I’ve had a mastectomy, can I have a breast cancer recurrence?
A: Undergoing a mastectomy drastically reduces your chances of breast cancer recurrence since almost all of your breast tissue has been removed. There is a very small chance, however, that residual breast cancer can recur on the chest wall. Therefore, it is important to continue with self-breast exams; see your doctor on a regular basis for examinations; and report any breast changes to your doctor.
Read more breast cancer Q&As.
Advancements in Breast Cancer Research
- Understanding Metastatis Better by Studying Breast Cancer Cells -- A new study from Johns Hopkins researchers suggests that the lethal spread of breast cancer is as dependent on a tumor’s protein-rich environment as on genetic changes inside tumor cells.
- A New Way to Detect Cancer -- Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have combined the ability to detect cancer DNA in the blood with genome sequencing technology in a test that could be used to screen for cancers, monitor cancer patients for recurrence and find residual cancer left after surgery.
- Women With Rare Disorder Benefit from Earlier Breast Cancer Screening -- New Johns Hopkins research showing a more than four-fold increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women with neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) adds to growing evidence that women with this rare genetic disorder may benefit from early breast cancer screening with mammograms beginning at age 40, and manual breast exams as early as adolescence.
- Uncovering the Culprit to Breast Cancer Progression -- Johns Hopkins researchers have uncovered a protein “partner” commonly used by breast cancer cells to unlock genes needed for spreading the disease around the body.
Find a Breast Specialist
No matter where you are in your journey, the Johns Hopkins Breast Center offers a unique program which provides ongoing evaluation, specialized treatment and support services, extensive personalized follow-up care, and a large breast cancer survivor support group.