What do you really know about breast cancer?

In the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness, our in house physician, Dr. Jones tests your knowledge of breast cancer. If you have any medical questions, ask here.Breast Cancer Awareness Quiz

  1.  Which of the following place women at a higher risk for developing breast cancer?

  1.  Smoking
  2.  First child childbirth after age 30
  3.  History of breast cancer in mother or sister
  4.  Previous biopsy which revealed “atypical hyperplasia”
  5. All of the above


2.  According to the USPSTF, which is one of the best strategies for breast cancer     screening?

  1. Monthly self breast exams
  2. Clinical breast exams every 1-2 years
  3. Monthly self breast exams combined with clinical breast exams every 1-2 years
  4. Monthly self breast exams combined with mammography every 1-2 years
  5. Mammography with or without clinical breast exams every 1-2 years


3. How many types of breast cancer exist?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. Many


4. Are most breast lumps cancerous?

  1. No
  2. Yes


5. What signs or symptoms should alarm me to seek evaluation by my doctor?

  1. A new lump or mass
  2. Swelling of all or part of the breast
  3. Skin irritation or dimpling
  4. Breast pain
  5. Nipple pain or inward turning
  6. Nipple discharge other than milk, such as blood
  7. Redness, scaling, or thickening of the breast skin or nipple.



There is conflict between leading authorities on the appropriate age to begin screens for breast cancer.

The USPSTF recommends that beginning at age 50 women get screening mammograms every 1-2 years. Women with higher risk factors for breast cancer should receive earlier screening, and this should be discussed with your doctor

The ACOG recommends that women begin screening mammograms every 1-2 years beginning at age 40, and then annually beginning at age 50.  ACOG also encourages breast self exams as they have the potential to detect palpable breast cancers.

Beginning screening at 40 yrs vs. 50 yrs is best determined by you and your doctor, while taking into consideration the risks and benefits of earlier or delayed screening, as well, as, your personal medical history, family history, and social history.

As a general rule, women with a first degree relative with breast cancer should have their initial test performed at an age 10 yrs earlier than their mother or sister when diagnosed with breast cancer.  For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 40 yrs old, you should have your first screening mammogram around age 30.


2. ANSWER: D & E

The USPSTF recommends screening for breast cancer with mammography, with or without clinical breast examination, every one to two years for women age 50 and older in women with low risk factors.  Mammography is the gold standard for both screening and diagnosis breast cancer.



There are several types of breast cancer, with some being quite rare. Here are a few:

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS; also known as intraductal carcinoma) is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. DCIS means that the cancer cells are inside the ducts but have not spread through the walls of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue.

Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer.  It starts in a milk passage (duct) of the breast, breaks through the wall of the duct, and grows into the fatty tissue of the breast. At this point, it may be able to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and bloodstream.

Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of invasive breast cancer accounts for about 1% to 3% of all breast cancers. Usually there is no single lump or tumor. Instead, inflammatory breast cancers (IBC) make the skin of the breast look red and feel warm. It also may give the breast skin a thick, pitted appearance that looks a lot like an orange peel. These changes are caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin. The affected breast may become larger or firmer, tender, or itchy. In its early stages, inflammatory breast cancer is often mistaken for an infection in the breast (called mastitis.

 Paget’s Disease of the nipple starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and then to the areola, the dark circle around the nipple. It is rare, accounting for only about 1% of all cases of breast cancer. The skin of the nipple and areola often appears crusted, scaly, and red, with areas of bleeding or oozing. The woman may notice burning or itching.

Paget’s Disease is almost always associated with either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or infiltrating ductal carcinoma.



Most breast lumps are not cancerous (benign). However, your doctor should be informed, so they can further evaluate you.  Benign causes include:

–          Fibrocystic changes, which refers to fibrosis or scar-like tissue, and cysts which are fluid-filled sacs.  A fibrocystic change often occurs before a women’s period begins.  Symptoms include breast swelling and pain.  A woman’s breast may feel lumpy.  There may even be a clear nipple discharge.

–          Fibroadenomas are benign breast tumors that are not cancerous and do not spread to other organs.



The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A lump that is painless, hard, and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. However, some cancers are tender, soft, and rounded. Therefore, it’s important to see your doctor for further evaluation.



  1. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org
  2. www.cancer.org  :American Cancer Society
  3. www.ACOG.org : American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology


The medical information by the author and editor is obtained from a variety of public resources.

This information is intended as a patient education resource only and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem as it is not a substitute for expert professional care.

If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your health care provider.

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