Breast cancer - risk factors and warning signs

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:45 pm
According to the American Medical Association, one in nine women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The earlier breast cancer is found and treated, the better a woman's chances for recovery. In some cases, early detection may also allow treatment options that let a woman keep her breast by having a lumpectomy (lum-pec-toe-me) rather than have the breast removed with a mastectomy (mas-tec-toe-me). Warning signs of breast cancer include a lump or thickening in the breast or armpit. Other symptoms include a change in the size or shape of the breast; discharge or liquid coming from the nipple; or a change in the color or texture of the skin of the breast or the dark area around the nipple (such as dimpling, puckering, or scaliness). If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Women are at higher risk of breast cancer if they have a family history of breast cancer, such as a mother or sister who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, or if they have had cancer in one breast already. Other risk factors include having your first menstrual period before age 12, menopause after age 55, having your first child after age 30, never having children, and a personal history of ovarian or endometrial (endo-mee-tree-ul) cancer. For more information about breast cancer, consult your healthcare provider.
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