The study, being conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, is expanding to include Illinois in the hopes of determining the environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer.
The 'Sister Study' will require 50,000 volunteers who are cancer-free nationwide between the ages of 35 and 74 to have a sister with the disease.
Volunteers will complete several questionnaires and provide a sample of blood, urine, toenails, and household dust.
It will also follow sisters for 10 years and compare those who develop breast cancer during that time to those who do not.
What Factors Increase Your Risk for Breast Cancer
- Having a personal history of a prior breast cancer.
- Evidence of a specific genetic change increases susceptibility to breast cancer.
- Having a mother, sister, daughter, or two or more close relatives, such as cousins, with a history of breast cancer, especially if diagnosed at a young age.
- A diagnosis of a breast condition that may predispose a woman to breast cancer, or a history of two or more breast biopsies for benign breast disease.
- Women age 45 or older who have at least 75 percent dense tissue on a mammogram are at some increased risk.
- A slight increase in risk for breast cancer is associated with having a first birth at age 30 or older.
What Can You Do?
- If you are in your 40s or older, get a mammogram on a regular basis, every one to two years.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse about planning your personal schedule for screening mammograms and breast exams.
- Gather as much information as you can about your family history of cancer, breast cancer, and screening mammograms.
- Call the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service for more information about breast cancer and mammograms at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). People with TTY equipment, dial 1-800-332-8615.
- For the latest information on cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute's website for patients and the public at http://rex.nci.nih.gov or CancerNet at http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov.
Source: http://rex.nci.nih.gov/MAMMOG_WEB/PUBS_POSTERS/FACTS_BC.html (National Institutes of Health).
When to Examine Your Breasts
- Examine once a month, when your breasts are not tender or swollen.
- After menopause, check your breasts on the first day of each month. After a hysterectomy, consult with your doctor or clinic for an appropriate time of the month
What to do if you find a lump or thickening?
- If a lump, dimple or discharge is discovered during a self-exam, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible.
American Cancer Society Recommendations
- A monthly self-examination breast exam is not a substitute for an examination by a medical professional. How often should I see the doctor for a mammogram?
- Ages 35-39, one baseline mammogram.
- Ages 40-49, one every 1-2 years.
- Over age 50, one every year.
Source: American Cancer Society