Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the breast tissue (Breast cancer facts, para. 1).

Recent trends are encouraging with early detection and treatment, but breast cancer cases are still too high. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation:

  • In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S., as well as 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
  • 63% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), for which the 5-year survival rate is 99%.
  • This year, an estimated 43,600 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.
    Although rare, men get breast cancer too. In 2021, an estimated 2,650 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S., and approximately 530 will die.
  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime
    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It is estimated that in 2021, approximately 30% of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer.
  • There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
    On average, every 2 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
  • In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part due to better screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
Women showing support for breast cancer

While you can’t prevent breast cancer, it is crucial to be proactive about your health.

Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast). The American Cancer Society recommends mammography every year for women ages 50-54 and every 1-2 years for women ages 55 and older (ACS Breast Cancer Early Detection Recommendations, para 6-8).

When you’re told that you have breast cancer, it’s natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer, and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell’s DNA (Causes of breast cancer, para. 2).

Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors (such as drinking alcohol) can be avoided (Causes of breast cancer, para. 3). However, most risk factors (such as having a family history of breast cancer) cannot be avoided. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get breast cancer. Many women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer (Causes of breast cancer, para. 3).

How do I self-detect breast cancer or warning signs?

Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer (Breast cancer symptoms and signs, para. 2).

Some changes to self-examine and watch for, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation:

How to treat breast cancer:

The goal of treating early and locally advanced breast cancers is to get rid of cancer and keep it from coming back.
Treatment includes some combination of:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • HER2-targeted therapy (treatment to block the action of an abnormal protein (such as HER2) that stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells).
  • Immunotherapy

These treatments are designed to remove cancer from the breast and destroy any cancer that might still be in the body.

Signature’s skilled nurses and licensed therapists have over 25 years of experience treating breast cancer patients with compassion and expertise. Our highly trained nurses will help you better understand your disease, medications, treatment options and deliver peace of mind at home. Our therapists will help you regain function and design a customized exercise program for you –all in the comfort of your own home.

For more information on how Signature Health Services can provide you with the best in home healthcare, please call (800) 277-8291

or email

Two hands holding breast cancer awareness ribbon

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      ACS Breast Cancer Early Detection Recommendations. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from 

     Breast cancer facts. National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2021, September 3). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from 

     Breast cancer symptoms and signs. National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2021, February 2). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from

     Causes of breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2020, October 29). Retrieved October 6, 2021, from


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