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Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women — a woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breasts, though there are many different types of breast cancer depending on which cells turn cancerous. A breast has three main parts: lobules (glands that produce milk), ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipples), and connective tissue. While breast cancer can appear in any of these parts, most cancerous cells start in the ducts or lobules, but may also spread to other areas of the body. 

There are several risk factors for breast cancer, including some you cannot change such as age, genetic mutations, reproductive history, and a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and some you can change such as lack of physical activity, taking hormones, and drinking alcohol. Nevertheless, while there are numerous factors that increase a person’s chance of developing breast cancer, some women will be diagnosed with breast cancer without any risk factors. 

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends women aged 50-74 and are at average risk for breast cancer be screened every two years. Women who are younger than 50 should speak with their doctor about whether being screening regularly is right for them. There are two main ways of being screened for breast cancer: mammograms and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Clinical breast exams and self-awareness of your own breasts, including doing frequent breast self-exams, can also help you and your doctor be aware of any changes in your breasts. 

The Carolina Cancer Screening Initiative aims to increase awareness around the importance of regular breast cancer screenings as well as accessibility to screening methods in North Carolina, particularly in areas of the state that are medically vulnerable.

To find our how you can be screened for breast cancer, visit the CDC page on Breast Cancer or the American Cancer Society Website.