(UNDATED) - According to Vicki Rakowski, chief mission officer at the American Cancer Society, Great Lakes Division, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
That number expresses hope, but breast cancer remains the second-most common form of cancer among women behind only skin cancer. And it remains the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women, behind only lung cancer. Breast cancer will kill 850 women this year.
Rakowski says an American woman has a one in eight chance of developing the disease. That is why October is breast cancer awareness month. Awareness, early detection and good treatment options is the key factors in fighting this killer.
We urge women to take advantage of all the tools available, including mammograms that are often offered at low cost, to help spot this killer.
"There are state and federal programs to assist ladies with the cost of mammograms," Rakowski says. "Every woman over the age of 40 needs to have a mammogram once a year."
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass.
According to the American Cancer Society, a lump that is painless, hard and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. But some cancers are tender, soft and rounded or even painful.
"If a woman notices anything new or unusual they need to call their doctor immediately," Rakowski says. "That is why monthly self-examines are so important."
Other signs of breast cancer include the following:
* Swelling of all or part of the breast
* Skin irritation or dimpling
* Breast pain
* Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
* Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
* A nipple discharge other than breast milk
If you have any symptoms that might be a sign of breast cancer, see a doctor as soon as you can.
For more information on breast cancer, options and mammogram visit cancer.org or call 800-227-2345.
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