Breast cancer is is the second most common cancer in women, according to the National Cancer Institute.

It can occur in men, too, but that is more rare. Each year, there are about 100 times more new cases of breast cancer in women than in men.

How do you know if you are at risk and how can you prevent it from happening to you?

It is important to know what this cancer is and how to treat it, prevent it or know the risk factors for developing it.

What is breast cancer? It is not just one disease, but a group of diseases that occur when cells in the breast divide and grow without their normal control, according to the Susan G. Komen organization. These malignant tumors can spread to other parts of the body through the lymph system or bloodstream.

Susan G. Komen has become a global movement devoted to stopping breast cancer. To date, more than $2.6 billion has been invested in groundbreaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 60 countries. These efforts have helped to reduce deaths from breast cancer by 38 percent between 1989 and 2014, and they won’t stop until the organization’s promise is fulfilled.

What causes breast cancer still is unknown, which makes it hard to prevent. What is known is that if is found early, the chances of survival are high. Susan G. Komen has put out a guide for what can be done to improve early detection.

The first thing is knowing the risk of breast cancer. Having a risk factor doesn’t automatically cause cancer, but it can increase the chances for it to develop. Just having a risk does not mean you will develop cancer. Simply being a woman and growing older is a risk, but many women have no other risk than that fact itself.

Many factors might increase that risk, though, including having never had children, having your first child after age 34, starting menopause after age 55, having your first period before the age of 12 or drinking more than one drink of alcohol per day. Another significant risk factor is not knowing your family health history.

A screening is the next step — talk with a doctor about which screening test is right for you. If you’re at a high risk of developing breast cancer, you might ask about having mammograms or another screening test, such as a breast MRI, before the age of 40. If you’re not at risk, having a mammogram done every year is recommended, starting at the age of 40. A clinical breast exam is recommended at least every three years, starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40.

Know what is normal for you. It is your body and you are the best person to notice what changes might occur. Signs of breast cancer are different in every women.

it is important to know your breasts, and how they normally look and feel. Signs to watch for include lumps; hard knots or thickening inside the breast or underarm area; changes in size or shape; itchy, scaly sores or rashes on the nipple; nipple discharge that starts suddenly; or new pain in one spot that will not go away.

Finally, be sure to make healthy lifestyle choices. Maintain a healthy weight, add exercise into your routine, limit alcohol intake, limit menopausal hormone use and breastfeed if you can. All is this information you can use to determine if you or a loved one are at risk of breast cancer and what can be done, if so.

This story was written by Ark City Daily Bytes intern Amelia Doyle.

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