Get The Facts On Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Howard University Hospital Women's Imaging Center is raising awareness for breast cancer by promoting annual breast exams to its patient populations. Did you know that....

  • Approximately 1 in 8 women (13%) will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 39 women (3%) will die from breast cancer. 

  • According to, breast cancer incidence rates are highest among Non-Hispanic Whites at 130.8 per 100,000, followed closely by African Americans at 129.0 per 100,000. African American women also have the highest breast cancer death rate in the nation at 28.4 deaths per 100,000.

  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the District of Columbia and is the third leading cause of cancer death. 

  • African American women in the District of Columbia have a higher incidence rate of breast cancer than White women at 139.4 per 100,000.

  • African American women in the District of Columbia have a breast cancer mortality rate that is two times higher than White women at 33.2 deaths per 100,000.

  • In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. 

  • 63% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), for which the 5-year survival rate is 99%. 

  • An estimated 43,600 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. this year. 

  • There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. (Source National Breast Cancer Foundation)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

What Is Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the tissues (ducts and/or lobes) of the breast.

What Causes Breast Cancer?

No one knows the exact causes of breast cancer.  Studies suggest that damage to a cell's DNA plays a critical part in developing breast cancer. However, there are a number of factors for breast cancer in women, including hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that may increase the risks. Other factors may include: age, genetics, obesity, alcohol, early menstruation, denser breast tissue, and a personal history of breast cancer.

What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer?

Different people may have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some warning signs of breast cancer may include.

  • A lump in the breast or armpit area.

  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.

  • Secretion or a discharge from the nipple (other than breast milk).

  • Thickening or swelling of the breast.

  • Skin irritation on the breast.

  • Changes in the size or the shape of the breast.

  • Nominal or significant pain in any area of the breast including the nipple.

What Are The Different Types Of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer comes in many forms. The type of breast cancer is usually determined by the specific cells in the breast that are affected. Most breast cancers are carcinomas, which are tumors that start in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. When carcinomas form in the breast, they are usually a more specific type called adenocarcinoma, which starts in cells in the ducts (the milk ducts) or the lobules (milk-producing glands).

What Is A Mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

When Should I Get Screened For Breast Cancer?

The American Cancer Society recommends the following early-detection screenings for women at average risk for breast cancer:

  • Optimal mammograms beginning at age 40.

  • Annual mammograms for women at age 45-54.

  • Mammograms every two years for women 55 and older, unless they get yearly screenings.

  • MRI's and mammograms for some women at high risk for breast cancer.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

There is an abundance of treatment options available for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer. These treatment options will vary based on a number of factors (the type of cancer, diagnosis, stage of cancer, health of the individual, etc). They include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biological therapy.

What Are The Most Effective Ways To Detect Breast Cancer?

Mammograms are the most efficient way to detect abnormalities which could lead to breast cancer. This is a 3D X-ray of the breast. Getting a regular mammogram lowers the risk of succumbing to breast cancer. Please remember, if the cancer is found at an early stage, it can be treated more effectively than being discovered in the later stages. Women should start getting their breast exams early and mammograms at 40.

What Is The General Prognosis Of Someone Diagnosed With Breast Cancer?

A general prognosis for someone diagnosed with breast cancer is between 5 -10 years. Stats from suggest, the average 5-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%. The average 10-year survival rate for women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 84%. If the invasive breast cancer is located only in the breast, the 5-year survival rate of women with this disease is 99%.

Why Are Annual Mammograms So Important?

Unfortunately, Chronic Kidney Disease cannot be cured. In fact, it often gets progressively worse over time. However, there are treatments that can help to protect your kidneys and reduce your risk of serious complications. Getting treatment as son as you are diagnosed offers you a better chance of slowing down the progression of CKD.

Reach Out

Call (202) 865-3610 to request an appointment at HUH Women's Imaging Center.