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Breast Health

Breast cancer is a major health issue for Canadian women. It is the most common kind of cancer in women.
1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime
Breast cancer develops from changes to breast cells. Sometimes a build-up of cells in the breast form a lump or tumor. A breast lump or tumor can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Breast cancer is not just a health issue for women. Breast cancer among men is rare but there are about 10-20 new cases of breast cancer found in men each year in BC.

The strongest risk factors for breast cancer are:

  • being female

  • being over 50 years of age

More than 80 out of 100 new breast cancers diagnosed each year in BC are in women age 50 or older.

There are some risk factors for breast cancer that you can’t control, such as a family history of breast cancer - mother, daughter, sister. Only 5 to 10 out of 100 breast cancers are linked to family history.  

Canadian First Nations and Inuit women have lower rates of breast cancer than other Canadian women. ‎

Mammograms are x-rays of the breasts. A screening mammogram looks for hidden cancer in women who are healthy and who have never had breast cancer. 

Regular screening mammograms can find breast cancer early, usually before it has spread. The earlier cancer is detected, the more options a woman has for treatment and the better chance she has for a cure. 

25 out of 100 fewer women die from breast cancer who get a regular mammogram. 
The Screening Mammography Program of British Columbia (SMPBC) provides free screening mammograms for eligible BC women ages 40 and up.  

You do not need a health care provider’s referral to book a mammogram.

Learn more about breast cancer screening from BC Cancer.  Check out BC Cancer's Breast Cancer Screening Decision Aid to help you determine if screening is right for you. 

Book a breast screening appointment at BC Women’s Breast Health Program
Instead of doing a monthly breast self-examination (BSE), BC Cancer recommends you be 'breast aware'. In other words, know what your breasts normally look and feel like at different times of the month.

Breasts can change during your menstrual cycle (your period), if you are taking contraceptives (the Pill) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or are in menopause (ending of your periods).

Being 'breast aware' will help you notice unusual changes right away – like a lump or nipple discharge.

Visit Five Plus BC for more info on being 'breast aware'.
Studies show lesbians and bisexual women have higher rates of breast cancer than heterosexual women. LGBTQ people in general are less likely to be regularly screened for breast cancer which may increase risk. Discrimination and negative experiences with healthcare providers can be a barrier to accessing health screening.

Not enough research has been done to know whether trans people get cancer more than non-trans people. Breast cancer risk increases with exposure to the hormones estrogen and progestin. Taking estrogen or estrogen-progestin combinations increases your risk of breast cancer.

For more information about cancer screening for LBGTQ communities:
SOURCE: Breast Health ( )
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