Breast Health & Disease

Breasts play many roles women's lives. They give women their unique shapes. They provide sexual pleasure. They deliver life-sustaining milk to their babies.

Some women are completely comfortable with their breasts, others aren't. They worry that their breasts are too big or too small, sit too high or hang too low, are lopsided, or aren't as firm as they once were. Regardless of size or shape, all women want healthy breasts for a lifetime.

Five ways to keep breasts healthy include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, limiting alcohol (no more than one drink a day), not smoking, and regularly performing breast self-exams.

Among younger women, common breast problems include fibrocystic breast disease, a noncancerous condition characterized by breast pain, cysts, and lumps); and fibroadenomas, small bumps of fibrous and glandular tissue that can be painful.

For older women, the concern is more likely to be breast cancer. About 1 in 8 (12%) of women living in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes. Each year, about 300,000 American women are diagnosed with some form of breast cancer, and about 40,000 die of it.

Breast cancer can often be successfully treated, especially if it is detected early. That's why women are urged to check their breasts at home, and to have routine mammograms beginning at age 50 (or earlier for women at high risk for developing breast cancer).

Breast Health & Disease Articles

When you look for cancer, you might find heart disease

Screening tests for lung and breast cancer—chest computed tomography (CT) scans and mammograms—may offer clues about a person’s risk of heart disease. Chest CT scans, which are also done to detect blood clots in the lungs and for other lung diseases, can show calcium deposits in the heart’s arteries. Mammograms can show calcium in the breast arteries, which is closely linked to calcium in the coronary arteries. Calcium accumulates in artery walls, along with fat, cholesterol, and other substances to form plaque. Plaque narrows and hardens arteries, eventually leading to blockages that can trigger heart attacks. (Locked) More »

Breast implants linked to rare lymphoma

The FDA has identified over 200 cases of a rare lymphoma in women with breast implants. Implants with textured surfaces were associated with the cancer more frequently than those with smooth surfaces. More »

Breast cancer: The good news

Personalizing breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has resulted in therapies that are more effective and less toxic than in the past. Survivors are also benefiting from better supportive care. (Locked) More »

What do the new mammography guidelines mean for you?

The American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend different breast cancer screening schedules. Women should base their decision on their personal risks and preferences and a discussion with their doctor.  More »