Breast Cancer Awareness and Care

Oct. 17, 2023

Breast cancer is a pervasive health concern, affecting millions of people worldwide. While breast cancer is more common in women, it can also affect men. In 2021, the U.S. designated Men's Breast Cancer Awareness Week to highlight this issue, with an estimated 2,710 new cases and 530 deaths expected in that year.

In the United States, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women accounting for about 30% of all female cancers each year. Healthcare workers play a pivotal role in raising awareness, facilitating early detection, and providing essential care. This article will delve into key insights and information healthcare professionals need to know about breast cancer.

Understanding the prevalence and risk factors is very important to reduce the incidence of breast cancer. Breast cancer knows no bounds when it comes to age, race, or gender. It is vital for healthcare workers to be aware of the latest statistics and risk factors.

According to the American Cancer Society's estimates for 2023, approximately 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, with around 43,700 women succumbing to the disease.

Risk Factors

Black women face a higher mortality rate due to breast cancer compared to women of other racial or ethnic groups. This disparity is partially attributed to a higher incidence of triple-negative breast cancer (Estrogen, Progesterone, HER2 negative and it grows quickly and recurrence is more) within the Black community.


According to the Arizona Cancer Registry, Female breast cancer is the most common cancer in Arizona. It was the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in 2016-2020. Diagnosis rates decreased by 10%, and mortality rates decreased by 7.4% during that period 73% of cases were diagnosed at an early stage. The median age at diagnosis was 65, and at death, it was 70.

White non-Hispanic females had the highest diagnosis rate, while Black females had the highest mortality rate. Yavapai County had the highest diagnosis rate, while Apache County had the lowest. Mohave County reported the highest number of breast cancer deaths, and Greenlee County had the lowest. 

Early detection is key to improving breast cancer outcomes. Healthcare workers should educate patients about the warning signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Breast area changes:
  • A lump or thickened area in the breast or underarm.
  • Changes in breast size or shape.
  • Skin texture changes like dimpling or "orange-peel" skin.
  • Swelling in the breast, armpit, or around the collarbone.
  • Constant pain in the breast or armpit.
  • Nipple changes include inversion, changes in shape or direction, unusual discharge (blood or serous), and skin rashes.

What Healthcare Providers Should Know about Breast Cancer:

  • It's essential for healthcare professionals to be well-versed in breast cancer screening guidelines:
  • Average Risk Women: Women with non-dense breasts should begin annual mammography (3D preferred modality) at age 40, with no need for supplemental imaging.
  • Increased Breast Density: Women with increased breast density should also have annual mammography, starting at age 40, and consider supplemental imaging.
  • Higher-Than-Average Risk: For those with a predicted lifetime risk of over 20% or a strong family history, annual mammography and access to supplemental imaging (preferably MRI) should start at age 35 or as recommended by their physician.
  • Prior History of Breast Cancer: Women with a prior history of breast cancer should have annual mammography, and those with dense breasts may need annual supplemental imaging (preferably MRI) as recommended by their physician.

More details about breast cancer can be found here.

Information on the updated breast cancer screening guidelines can be found here.

Prevention Tips for Patients:
  • Lifestyle Choices: Encourage patients to maintain a healthy weight, engage in physical activity, limit alcohol consumption, and consider breastfeeding when possible.
  • Encourage patients to perform regular breast self-exams as a crucial method for early detection of breast cancer, enhancing the chances of successful treatment. 
    • Learn how to check for breast lumps and changes here

Patients taking hormone therapy or oral contraceptives or those with a family history of breast cancer should consult with their healthcare providers to assess their risk.

Breast cancer is a formidable adversary, but with early detection and preventive measures, its impact can be mitigated. Healthcare workers are instrumental in spreading awareness, promoting early screening, and supporting patients through their breast cancer journey. By staying informed and providing comprehensive care, healthcare professionals can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected by this disease.

Opportunities for free mammograms in Arizona:

Note: This is not medical advice or replaces seeing your doctor.