The American Cancer Society is providing information about detecting breast cancer early, treating the disease and getting support on the eve of the 25th annual National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The society includes detailed links to various topics in a feature posted to its website.

“Although there’s no sure-fire way to prevent breast cancer, certain lifestyle habits are linked to a lower risk of developing,” the ACS says.


Getting regular mammograms – which are an x-ray of the breast - and getting breast exams are recommended.

Women age 40 and should have a screening mammogram every year, the Society recommends. The procedure takes about 20 minutes.

"This year alone, it is estimated that more than 230,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 40,000 will die of the disease," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in a separate statement on Friday.

"If 90 percent of women 40 and older received breast cancer screening, 3,700 lives would be saved each year," she said.

Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam by a health professional at least every 3 years. The frequency should increase to yearly at age 40.

Mammograms “do not work as well in younger women,” the Society notes, “usually because their breasts are dense, and can hide a tumor.”

However, most breast cancers occur in older women.

More specialized screenings – with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans - may be necessary for women at greater risk, the Society says.


Treatments can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and other drugs.

The Society says treatment options will depend on the team treating a patient, although it offers some general guidance.

Treatments can include treating a tumor locally with surgery and radiation. Systemic therapy includes taking certain drugs, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.

After surgery, adjuvant therapy – which may involve steps similar to systemic therapy – may be needed to kill hidden cancer cells that can’t be felt on a physical exam or seen on x-rays or other imaging tests.

Not all patients need adjuvant therapy. Neoadjuvant therapy involves using chemotherapy or hormone therapy before surgery in order to shrink a tumer in an effort to allow a less extensive operation.


The Society also provides peer support networks where women can connect with others who have beaten the disease or are in treatment for it.

See additional information on the ACS website.