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Breast Cancer FAQs

Want to learn more about breast cancer and spread the word about the importance of screenings? Find information and resources you need to raise awareness about breast cancer and prevent it.

FAQs: Learn About Breast Cancer

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

  • A new lump or mass
  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  • Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

Who is at risk for breast cancer?

In the U.S., women have a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer. U.S. men have a 1 in 833 chance of getting breast cancer. The risk increases with age.

If I have no family history of breast cancer, does this mean there is no risk?

No. Ninety percent of people newly diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history. Many people think of breast cancer as an inherited disease. But only about 5-10% of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary, meaning they’re caused by abnormal changes (or mutations) in certain genes passed from parent to child.

Can hormone replacement therapy increase my risk of breast cancer?

Yes. Current or recent past users of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Since 2002 when research linked HRT and risk, the number of women taking HRT has dropped dramatically.

Who is affected by breast cancer in Frederick County?

In Frederick County, from 2012-2016, there were 956 new cases of female breast cancer. For every 100,000 women, 132 female breast cancer cases were reported. Over those years, there were 151 women who died of female breast cancer. For every 100,000 women in Frederick County, 21 died of female breast cancer.

What is the best way to detect breast cancer?

A digital mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast that detects abnormal calcifications and areas of abnormal masses and architectural distortion. We recommend women schedule their mammograms when their breasts are least tender.

MRIs are another option and are warranted in some cases. They do have a higher sensitivity in detecting breast cancer. However, the negative aspect of breast MRIs is the cost and a higher false-positive rate compared to mammography.

Will I receive my mammogram results the same day?

Yes. Frederick Health radiologists will review your prior images and give you the results of your mammogram before you leave.

Are mammograms painful?

No. An average mammogram image takes 7 seconds, and we use special pads to cushion the breast during the short time you are in compression. Some may experience slight discomfort, but not pain.

What is the recommended age that women receive a mammogram?

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women over the age of 40 receive a screening mammogram regardless of symptoms:

  • Women between the ages of 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
  • Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women ages 55+ should get mammograms every 1-2 years
  • As we age, our risk increases. Don’t skip your mammogram!

Is it true that women over the age of 70 do not need to schedule a mammogram?

No. The American Cancer Society has no “cut-off” age.

Women should continue having annual mammograms until their life expectancy is less than 10 years. The decision to order screening mammograms is based on the discretion of the ordering healthcare provider. Monthly breast self-exams and annual physical exams by a doctor are essential parts of an overall breast cancer screening strategy.

Get the Word Out

Anyone can raise awareness about breast cancer. Get involved and help us spread the word. Here are a few ideas:

  • Share this information on your social media outlets and other networks.
  • Host an event in our community and share local health resources.
  • Start a conversation about breast cancer—with your friends, family, and doctor.
  • Encourage the women in your life to talk to their doctors about mammograms.
  • Donate to the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund to help save lives in Frederick County. Every dollar donated is used for direct patient benefit.


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