About the Workgroup

In South Carolina, approximately 3,845* women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 678 die from the disease each year.

*This statistic is for female breast cancers excluding in situ cancers

Breast cancer starts when the cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is cancer if normal breast cells have changed and instead of replacing old cells, they keep dividing and grow into a tumor. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can be diagnosed as well. 

Screening for breast cancer is crucial for early detection. 

• The USPSTF recommends screening mammography every other year for women aged 50 to 74 years. 

• The American Cancer Society recommends that all women begin having yearly mammograms by age 45, and can change to having mammograms every other year beginning at age 55. Women should have the choice to start screening with yearly mammograms as early as age 40 if they want to. 


Risk Factors - Every woman wants to know what she can do to lower her risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer are: 

• Age - The risk of breast cancer goes up as one gets older. Approximately two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women ages 55 and older. 

• Family history - Women with close relatives who've been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease. 

• Drinking alcohol - Drinking alcoholic beverages--beer, wine, and liquor--increases a woman's risk of breast cancer

• Physical activity - Getting regular exercise may decrease the risk of both developing breast cancer and dying from breast cancer. 

• Race/ethnicity - White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American, Hispanic, and Asian women. But African American women are more likely to develop aggressive, advanced-stage breast cancer diagnosed at a young age. 

• Hormone replacement therapy - Use of hormone replacement therapy (estrogen + progestin) has been shown to increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

• Weight- After menopause, overweight and obese women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight.