Breast Cancer

You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

Some women who have breast cancer have no signs or symptoms. Early detection can help you prevent the breast cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.


  • Doctors diagnose women with breast cancer more often than any other type of cancer, except for skin cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for women, after lung cancer. More than 1,000 women die from breast cancer each year.

Risk Factors

You are more likely to get breast cancer if you:

  • Are a woman (men can also get breast cancer, however it is rare)
  • Are older (the older you get, the higher your risk)
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Are obese
  • Drink alcohol (drinking even a small amount of alcohol can increase your risk for breast cancer)
  • Take combination estrogen-progesterone hormone replacement therapy during menopause
  • Currently use certain birth control pills
  • Had breast cancer previously, or have a family history of breast cancer
  • Have a specific gene mutation for breast cancer, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2
  • Began menstruation early (before age 12) or menopause late (after age 55)

People with risk factors will not necessarily get breast cancer, and people without risk factors can still get it. We don’t always know why some people get breast cancer and some people do not.

Know your risk factors and, when possible, try to address them. This could help you prevent cancer.


Routine screenings can help doctors find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat.

The most common way to screen for breast cancer is a mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray picture of your breast. Mammograms can spot breast cancer before you can feel lumps in your breast.

If you are 40 or older, ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening and when to start screening. Some women need to be screened earlier than others, depending on their risk factors. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 40. The NYC Department of Health does not recommend screening by self-breast exams.

Where to Get a Mammogram

If you don’t have a doctor or need to find a free or low-cost mammogram site, call 311 to find a screening site near you.

If you live in the city, are 40 or older and have not had a mammogram in the past year, you can also get a free mammogram at the American-Italian Cancer Foundation’s Mobile Care Clinic. They provide services to all New Yorkers.

Additional Resources

More Information