I recently learned that when someone Googles "symptoms of breast cancer," the first result they get is this site. And when they Google "breast cancer symptoms,“ this site is top-10. Yeah, and”?
That translates to thousands of women a month maybe you’re one of them? visiting mybreastcancernetwork.com who DON’T have breast cancer, but are concerned enough about a possible symptom (or worried enough about a family member or friend) that they go online to find out more. So, Googlers who’ve reached mybreastcancernetwork.com in search of information about symptoms, you’ve come to the right place; this post is for you.
Most changes in your breast do NOT signal cancer. First of all, do you have a symptom that you’re afraid might signal breast cancer? Don’t stress; Chances are you’re just fine. Read our post on common breast issues that are NOT breast cancer symptoms.
Is it a symptom, or not? Are you looking for pictures, videos, and lots of information about breast lumps, and what causes them? Want to take a symptoms quiz, or check out some FAQS? Visit our Check a Breast Cancer Symptom page.
Now, if you’ve gone around in circles and come back here take a deeeeep breath, and relax; the statistics are on your side. I don’t know how to stress this strongly enough: you probably don’t have breast cancer. Yes, 1 in 8 of us women will get breast cancer. But that’s lifetime risk; that doesn’t mean the risk that you’ll get breast cancer is 1 in 8 right now, today.
Take a look at these statistics: At age 30, your risk is 1 in 1,900 (see, you feel better already, right?). At age 40, 1 in 200. At 50, 1 in 50; and 1 in 23 at age 60. Only at age 85 and over is your risk 1 in 8. You younger women, right up to those of you under age 50, keep this in mind: 8 out of 10 breast cancer cases are in women over the age of 50.
Worried about your mammogram? Don’t be. Here are some more facts that might comfort you on your way to your annual mammogram appointment. 95% of screening mammograms performed in this country each year are perfectly normal. And of the 5% that show an area of concern, many can be resolved via an ultrasound, an additional mammogram, or an MRI. For the tiny percentage of all mammograms that result in a biopsy, only about 15% actually prove to be breast cancer.
So here you are, a healthy woman in her early 50s: what’s the chance of your next mammogram showing you have cancer? Exceedingly slim. If you had that same chance of winning PowerBall, you wouldn’t run out and quit your job, would you? Then why are you worried about your mammogram? Chill; use that negative energy for something positive.
Despite all the encouraging statistics, what if you DO have breast cancer? I have one more comforting fact up my sleeve: fewer than 1 in 4 women with breast cancer dies from it. So even if that lump you feel or that spot on the mammogram is cancer, you still have a more than 80% chance of surviving it. Even better, for about 20% of women with breast cancer (women with a diagnosis of DCIS), your chance of survival is almost a perfect 100%.
STILL worried? Then either you have reason to be, due to high personal risk; or you’re a glass-half-full person and I can’t help you there But do stay in touch here at mybreastcancernetwork.com. Connect with the community by writing a sharepost; it’ll diffuse your fears, and you’ll no doubt get all the support you need.
PJ Hamel is senior digital content editor and food writer at King Arthur Flour, and a James Beard award-winning author. A 16-year breast cancer survivor, her passion is helping women through this devastating disease. She manages a large and active online survivor support network based at her local hospital and shares her wisdom and experience with the greater community via HealthCentral.com.