What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

Virginia Hospital Center encourages women to be actively involved in monitoring their own health and taking preventive measures against breast cancer. In recent years, the early detection of breast cancer has saved the lives of thousands of women across the United States.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women and it is the second leading cause of cancer death, after lung cancer. However, when detected early, breast cancer is very treatable.

Women over age 20 should be aware of the warning signs and risk factors for breast cancer.

Warning Signs

By performing regular monthly exams, you will become familiar with the normal bumps you feel in your breast, and be better able to detect any changes. Call your doctor if you notice changes such as:
  • Thickening or swelling of breast tissue
  • Any dimpling or distortion of the breast
  • Skin irritation or scaliness of the breast
  • Tenderness of the nipple, nipple discharge
  • Change in size or color of the breast or nipple
  • Lump in the breast or under the arm

Risk Factors

As you get older, your risk of breast cancer increases. Your risk increases if you:
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have had breast cancer
  • Have a mother, grandmother or sister who has had breast cancer
  • Began menstruation before you were 12 years old
  • Stopped having periods after you were 55 years old
  • Eat a diet that is high in fat
  • Are very overweight
  • Have never been pregnant
  • Had your first baby after you were 30 years old
  • Are on estrogen replacement therapy
When a lump is detected, it is most often NOT cancer. In fact, 70 percent of all breast lumps are benign. But, it is important for women to understand the importance of breast self-examinations and early cancer detection.

Early Breast Cancer Detection

Through breast self-examination (BSE), clinical breast examination (CBE) by your doctor and mammography, breast cancers are being detected earlier than ever before. You should learn how to perform monthly breast self-examinations.

Virginia Hospital Center follows the guidelines of the American Cancer Society. Read more

Is it time for your annual mammogram?

Mammography is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage. To schedule an urgent exam, call 703.558.8500 or request a non-urgent appointment online.

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