Making sense of the complex world of breast cancer can be overwhelming. Whether you are facing a personal diagnosis or that of a friend or loved one, there are many steps you can take to help you better understand the many faces of this disease.

Know about your personal risks and ways to take an active role in your breast health.

1. Know the risks

• Talk to your family to learn about your family health history.
• Talk to your doctor about your personal risk of breast cancer.

2. Get screened

• Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk.
• Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk.
• Schedule breast exams at least every 3 years starting at 20, and each year starting at 40.

3. Know the symptoms

• Lump, hard knot or thickening
• Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
• Change in the size or shape of the breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
• Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
• New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

See your health care provider right away if you notice any of these changes and symptoms.

4. Make healthy lifestyle choices

• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Add exercise into your routine.
• Limit alcohol intake.

Find information about being a survivor, or offering support to a breast cancer survivor. Find local resources available to assist you. Becoming informed and empowered is the first step in battling this disease.

Click here to view our interactive tutorial to better understand the development of breast cancer, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options.