Frequently Asked Questions

A startling fact is that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Why is early detection a women’s best defense against breast cancer?

If detected early, breast cancer can often be treated effectively with surgery that preserves the breast. Five-year survival after treatment for localized breast cancer is 96.3%. (Source: National Cancer Institute)


Are there things I can do to reduce my risk of breast cancer? The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends nine diet and lifestyle guidelines.

  • Don't smoke
  • Maintain a maximum body mass index of 25 and limit weight gain to no more than 11 pounds after age 18
  • Engage in daily moderate and weekly vigorous physical activity
  • Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day
  • Eat seven or more portions of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and cereals each day and limit processed foods and refined sugar.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks to one drink a day for women
  • Limit red meat to about three ounces daily
  • Limit intake of fatty foods, particularly those of animal origin
  • Limit intake of salted foods and use of salt in cooking

A high-risk woman who has a strong family history of breast cancer may wish to consult a genetic counselor about testing for breast cancer genes, and surgical and chemopreventative measures.


What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

  • An abnormality that shows up on a mammogram before physical symptoms develop.
  • A lump in the breast.
  • A thickening, swelling, distortion or tenderness in the breast.
  • Skin irritation or dimpling in the breast.
  • Nipple pain, scaliness or retraction.

Note: breast pain is very commonly due to benign conditions and is not usually the first symptom of breast cancer. (Source: National Cancer Institute)


What are the guidelines women should follow regarding breast health?

Women should follow these 3 steps to good breast health:

  • Perform monthly breast self-exams, starting at age 20.
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years (annually after 40).
  • Have annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40, earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer or other concerns about your personal risk.

(Source: American Cancer Society)


Breast cancer starts from the mutation of a single cell in the breast.

Several mutations are thought to be necessary over a span of a number of years before the cell is in the mode of uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells we call cancer. It is hard to believe, but at the time of diagnosis, most women have probably had their breast cancer for five to eight years. The rate of division and rapidity of growth varies and unchecked, breast cancer can eventually form a mass (tumor) and spread to other parts of the body via the blood and lymph system.


Only about 5-10% of all breast cancers are inherited.

Children can inherit an altered breast cancer susceptibility gene from either their mother or father. Most women—about 80%—who get breast cancer do not have a sister or mother who has breast cancer. While all breast cancer is genetic in origin, most of it is not inherited. (Source: The Breast Cancer Survival Manual by Dr. John Link, American Cancer Society)


What are the risk factors for developing breast cancer? 

In most cases, doctors cannot explain why a woman develops breast cancer. Studies show that most women who develop breast cancer have none of the risk factors listed below, other than the risk that comes with growing older. Also, most women with known risk factors do not get breast cancer. Scientists are conducting research into the causes of breast cancer to learn more about risk factors and ways of preventing this disease.



Breast Cancer Alliance is committed to maintaining donor privacy.


Your submission of personally identifiable information to us is entirely your choice. You may visit and browse our website without revealing any personally identifiable information about yourself to us. However, you may also choose to disclose personally identifiable information about yourself by conducting business with us. We may collect personally identifiable information about you if you:

  • communicate such information to us;
  • subscribe to receive our Newsletter or other communications;
  • make an on-line donation;
  • attend or make a purchase at one of our events.

The personally identifiable information we collect may consist of contact information (such as your name, email address, postal address or telephone number), financial and transaction-related information (if you make an on-line donation to us), and any other information you communicate to us (for example in an email or phone call.)




Breast Cancer Alliance Information Use and Disclosure


Breast Cancer Alliance does not sell or otherwise disclose user information outside the organization.  To be removed from our mailing list, please contact the office,, or unsubscribe from our e-newsletter in the next issue.

In spite of the safeguards that we maintain, no data transmission over the Internet or any wireless network is 100% secure. Accordingly, we cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information that you transmit to us and you must do so at your own risk. However, once we have received your information, we will use commercially reasonable efforts to protect its security.



48 Maple Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830

369 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Privacy Policy
Terms and Conditions