Common Breast Cancer Facts, Stats, and Myths

Facts and Stats

Fact: While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. If you have a mother, daughter, sister, or grandmother who had breast cancer, you might want to consider getting a mammogram five years before the age of their diagnosis. If you do not have a history of breast cancer in your family, that does not mean you are safe. You should still do monthly self exams and receive yearly mammograms.

  • Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. This year more than 211,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected in the United States.
  • One woman in eight who lives to age 85 will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
  • Seventy percent of all breast cancers are found through breast self-exams. However, not all lumps are detectable by touch. Regular mammograms and monthly breast self-exams are recommended. 
  • Eight out of ten breast lumps are not cancerous. If you find a lump, call your doctor for an appointment.
  • Mammography is a low-dose X-ray examination that can detect breast cancer up to two years before it is large enough to be felt.
  • When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 96%.
  • Over 2 million breast cancer survivors are alive in America today.


Myth #1: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.

Fact: Eight out of ten lumps turn out to be benign. If you discover a lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, don't panic. See your physician immediately. Don't be afraid to take charge of you health with monthly self-exams, regular visits to the doctor, and regularly scheduled mammograms.

Myth #2: A mammogram can make breast cancer worse.

Fact: The x-ray and pressure on the breast from the x-ray machine used in mammograms cannot cause cancer to spread.

Myth #3: Only women get breast cancer.

Fact: This year 211,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 1,6000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Men should also give themselves monthly exams and discuss changes with their physicians.

Myth #4: Having a family history of breast cancer means you will get breast cancer.