Breast Cancer

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, are a breast cancer survivor, or are caring for someone with the disease, it’s important to get the facts and to keep moving forward with hope and determination.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women (excluding skin cancers).Men also can also get breast cancer.

In this section, you can learn about how breast cancer develops and what increases your risk for getting breast cancer. You can also learn more about signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

More detailed information about breast cancer can be found here from the National Cancer Institute.

Breast Cancer Staging

Understanding breast cancer staging is very important in creating your treatment plan and understanding your possible outcomes. It also helps you figure out whether or not you can be a part of clinical trials.  Learn more here about how breast cancer is staged.

Treatment Information

Treatment for breast cancer depends on type of cancer and the stage of cancer.  Common treatments include:

Screening and Prevention

Early detection and screening is your best defense against breast cancer. Finding a breast lump can be a scary experience. You worry that it may be cancer, and you wonder what will happen if it is.

If you have breast cancer, early diagnosis can improve your chances for successful treatment. Fear may cause some women to delay seeing a doctor. If you think you might have a problem, seeing a doctor as soon as possible is the best thing you can do for yourself. Screening often includes:

  • Mammogram: (x-ray of the breast) A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. This test may find tumors that are too small to feel.
  • Clinical Breast Exam: A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
  • Breast Self-Exam:  A breast self-exam is when you check your own breasts for lumps, changes in size or shape of the breast, or any other changes in the breasts or underarm (armpit).
  • Genetic Testing: Learn more about your genetic or family risk for breast cancer by contacting the Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute Risk and Prevention Clinic
  • Learn more about BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing 

Prevention: How can I reduce my risk of cancer?

Making healthy choices can go a long way in helping you to live a healthier life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get screened. Early detection is part of prevention. Talk to your doctor about what screening tests you should get as part of your regular care.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health. Need help quitting? Call the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230 .
  • Be safe in the sun. Use sunscreen, and cover up when you’re in the sun. Stay in the shade when the sun is at it’s brightest – between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink less. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
  • Know your family history for cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting genetic testing if you think you are at risk.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Know your risk factors.
Want to learn more about how you can make healthier choices? Contact the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center for tips and information.

MaineHealth Member and Affiliate Breast Cancer Clinics

The Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute Breast Care Center
100 Campus Drive, Scarborough, Maine
(207) 396-7760

MaineGeneral Medical Center Breast Care Program
Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care
361 Old Belgrade Road, Augusta, Maine
(207) 621-6162

Breast Health Center at Mid Coast Hospital
Suite 3500, Medical Office Building
123 Medical Center Drive Brunswick, Maine
(207) 373-6540 or toll free: (866) 602-1202

Other Resources

American Cancer Society The American Cancer Society has information to help you stay well and get well, to find cures, and to fight back.    Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program 1-800-350-5180 or (207) 287-8068 Help with paying for a variety of costs for someone with breast or cervical cancer.
Maine Breast Cancer Coalition
A non-profit, grassroots, volunteer-based organization that provides financial assistance, advocacy, and education.

Maine Cancer Foundation
Raises money to support cancer research and education in Maine.

Maine Cancer Consortium
Maine’s statewide cancer prevention, detection, and care partnership.

Cancer Community Center Providing FREE support, resources, education and wellness services to cancer patients, their families and friends in Maine.

Beth C. Wright Cancer Resource Center
Providing education and support for cancer patients and their families by offering free programs in a warm and welcoming environment in Eastern Maine.

National Breast Cancer Foundation
The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen-Maine
An international organization the promotes education and fundraising for breast cancer.

BreastCancer.Org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer. was developed specifically for women and men interested in breast cancer trials.
Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is the premier international organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer.

Life After the Storm
A site for breast cancer survivors

Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats
The Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats and Adventure Weekend provide adventure-based opportunities for women living after breast cancer.

More Information

Breast Cancer Treatment
Male Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast Cancer and Pregnancy