Cancer. The very word is often whispered, as it strikes fear and uncertainty into people as they go about their everyday lives. Among the various types of cancer, breast cancer remains one of the most prevalent.

“Each year in the United States, about 240,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,100 in men,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. “About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than all other women.”

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells of the breast.

“The disease develops when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow out of control, forming a tumor that can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body,” according to the CDC website.

The CDC says the two most common kinds of breast cancer are:

  1. “Invasive ductal carcinoma. The cancer cells begin in the ducts and then grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.”
  2. Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells begin in the lobules and then spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.”

Cancer Prevention Month serves an important reminder that taking proactive measures against this devastating disease is crucial to catching breast cancer an early stage.

Proactive measures: Healthy lifestyle

While no prevention can 100% protect women or men from developing breast cancer, adopting a healthy lifestyle may significantly reduce a person’s risk.

“Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history,” according to the CDC. However, it says there are some things that you can do:

  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Choose not to drink alcohol, or drink alcohol in moderation.
  • If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.

The power of timely intervention: Early detection

Catching cancer early is most important, as early detection is often the difference between life and death.

“The only breast cancers that are cured … are breast cancers that are detected early,” Dr. Otis Brawley, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University told CNN.

Accordingly, knowledge is power in this fight. Understanding if you may be at a higher risk for breast cancer starts with knowing your family history of cancer. Myriad Genetics suggests using the acronym MYR when exploring your family history:
M – Multiple cancers in your family – especially ask about breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, and pancreatic, colon, or rectal cancer
Y – Young – if a family member was diagnosed with a cancer at a younger age (such as breast cancer under 50)
R – Rare cancers such as ovarian and male breast cancer.

Knowing this information may qualify you for hereditary cancer testing. For example, certain inherited gene mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, significantly increase the likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

Another kind of cancer – familial cancer – can increase your risk for developing cancer, even if you don’t have a known gene mutation. Environmental factors may also influence familial risk.

The MyRisk® with RiskScore® genetic test tells you, both your hereditary, and familial risk to help give you a more complete picture. It then recommends actions, like additional screenings, so you can better protect your health.

For example, many women know that mammograms are an important tool for detecting breast cancer at an early stage. But, if you are at higher risk for either hereditary or familial cancer, additional screenings such as regular MRIs may catch cancers that may be missed by mammograms.

Knowing your risk is an important step in early detection and treatment of breast cancer. To find out if you are a candidate for the MyRisk with RiskScore, visit