Resource Directory by Cancer Type

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Question: What is Breast Cancer?

Answer: Cancer is the name we use to describe a disease where the cells of your body multiply out of control, endlessly growing or interrupting important functions of your body. There are many variations of cancer with different causes and treatments.

Breast Cancer is the name for a group of cancer types found in the breasts of women or men.

Question: What Causes Breast Cancer?

Answer: There are several known causes of Breast Cancer, and there are likely more that we don't yet understand. Many research programs are dedicated to finding additional causes and effective treatments.

We known that cancer can be caused by:

  • random mutation of cells
  • inherited traits in your genome
  • exposure to carcinogens
  • exposure to radiation

Question: Who Gets Breast Cancer?

Answer: Most breast cancer is detected in women ages 50 and older, but about 11% of breast cancer cases are found in younger women. There are a few groups who have higher than average risk of developing breast cancer.

The Center for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society recommend regular screenings for all women ages 45 and older, but you may be at high risk if:

  • you have had breast cancer before, or other breast issues like lobular carcinoma, ductal carcinoma, atypical ductal hyperplasia or atypical lobular hyperlasia
  • you have changes in the genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2)
  • you have had chest or breast radiation therapy, especially in childhood
  • you have close relatives with a history of breast cancer, particularly breast cancer under the age 45
  • you have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage

Question: Can I reduce my risk of breast cancer?

Answer: At this time, we don't have a way to prevent cancers causes by genetic factors, although there is some very interesting work being researched in gene therapy and immunotherapy. 

However, there are several things you can do to lower your risk in general:

  • adopt a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • limit alcohol intake
  • avoid known carcinogens
  • don't even think about smoking
  • reduce exposure to radiation in medical tests (such as CT scans, PET scans and X-rays)
  • breastfeed your babies if possible
  • learn about the risks of hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives from your physician
  • Average risk women should start regular screenings at age 45
  • High-risk women should consult with their personal physician

Question: What Resources Are Available?

Resources Available Types of Cancer
SHARE Advocacy, Education Program, Support Program Breast, Ovarian

The Center for Breast Care at Southern Maine Health Care Treatment Center Breast

Young Survival Coalition Advocacy, Education Program, Support Program Breast

Martha B. Webber Breast Cancer Center Screening, Support Program, Treatment Center Breast

Patient Navigator Program Support Program All, Breast

Aroostook County Community Action Program Support Program All, Breast, Cervical

Susan G. Komen. Advocacy Breast
Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program Financial Assistance, Screening Breast, Cervical

Maine Breast Cancer Coalition Support Program Breast