All about breast cancer

Learning about breast health is like having a superpower to protect yourself. When you understand what's normal for your body and how to spot any changes, you're in control. Education empowers you to make informed decisions, whether it's about screening options, lifestyle habits, or seeking help when needed.


In 2024, an estimated 313,510 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S.1

Breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Black women, is a disease that affects the breast tissue. Normally, cells in your body grow and divide in a controlled way to help you stay healthy. But with breast cancer, something goes wrong, and cells start to grow out of control. These extra cells form a lump called a tumor. These cells can also travel to other parts of the body, which is when metastasis (mah-tas-tah-sis) occurs. When this happens, the breast cancer is in a more advanced stage.

Read below to learn more about the risks, how to get screened, what potential treatment options could be once diagnosed, and to learn about the breast cancer journey of a few of our NOWINCLUDED members.

Can i develop breast cancer?

Anyone can develop breast cancer, but there are factors that put you at risk, such as:

  • Gender: While breast cancer can occur in anyone (read about male breast cancer), it is more common in women
  • Age: Risk increases with age, with most cases occurring in women over 55
  • Family History: Having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer
  • Inherited Gene Mutations: Certain gene mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (your doctor can help you understand if you may have these gene mutations)
  • Lifestyle: Factors such as drinking alcohol (depends on how much and how often), little to no exercise, and smoking


  • In women under age 40, breast cancer is more common in Black women
  • Black women are also more likely to die from breast cancer at any age
  • Black women are more likely to have triple-negative breast cancer

Signs of breast cancer

By staying informed, you’re not just taking care of your breasts, you’re taking care of your overall well-being. Here are a few things you can know look out for:  
  • Feeling a lump or bump in your breast or under your arm
  • Your breast looks different, like it’s swollen or red
  • Sometimes feeling breast or nipple pain
  • Seeing liquid coming out of your nipple that’s not milk
Not every change is cancerous, check out this article to understand some other conditions that may cause changes to your breasts.

Get Tested Early

If detected early, it is easier to prevent breast cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Doing a monthly breast exam on yourself is one way to help detect and treat the disease early. Learn how by reading this article or following the instructional video.  Remember, early detection means you have a better chance of beating breast cancer. In addition to the above, make sure you are:
  1. Asking your doctor about clinical breast exams during regular check-ups. These exams help doctors check for any changes in your breasts.
  2. Getting a mammogram every year starting at age 40. A mammogram is a special X-ray that checks for breast cancer by taking pictures of the inside of your breast and can catch about 85% of breast cancers in women.

Survivor Spotlight

“Women and caregivers need to carve out more quiet time for themselves and as a result will be in-tuned more with what is going on with their bodies. Everyone should go and receive early detection screenings when they can and women to get their yearly mammograms (medical exam performed by doctors).”

Linda is a wife, mother, grandmother, and breast cancer survivor.
Linda was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma, two cancerous tumors in her breast.

types of breast cancer

There are two main types of breast cancer, non-invasive and invasive, and a few subtypes. Understanding your diagnosis is important as each one can be treated in different ways. 

Some common types and subtypes of breast cancer include:

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): The most common type of breast cancer, which starts in milk ducts and spreads into breast tissue
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): The second most common type; it starts in the milk-producing glands, called lobules, and then spreads to nearby tissues
  • HR-Positive Breast Cancer: The most common subtype and with the best outcomes when diagnosed early, this breast cancer has hormone (estrogen and/or progesterone) receptors in the tumor cell
  • HER2-Positive Breast Cancer: Has too much of a protein called HER2, the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 which helps normal breast cells grow and repair, and can grow faster than other types
  • Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC): An aggressive form of breast cancer, commonly diagnosed in younger women, Black and Hispanic women, and those with inherited BRCA1 gene mutations; doesn’t have any of the receptors (estrogen, progesterone, and HER2) mentioned above, which makes it harder to treat

Treatment Overview

After receiving news of a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s important to discuss with your doctor what treatment options may be right for you. Cancer tends to disproportionately impact our community with worse outcomes, so advocating for yourself and fully understanding your treatment options is important. During your appointment, ask as many questions as possible and bring a supportive friend or family member to take notes for you. 

Some breast cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery: Doctors can remove the tumor (lumpectomy) or the whole breast (mastectomy)
  • Radiation Therapy: High-energy waves are used to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Medicines are given to kill cancer cells.
  • Hormone Therapy: Medicines are given to block hormones that help cancer cells grow.
  • Targeted Therapy: Medicines are given to attack specific traits of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Medicines are given to help the body’s immune system fight cancer.
  • Clinical Research Studies: New treatments are tested in research so they work for everyone, including people of color. Click here to learn more.

Clinical Research Studies

By participating in clinical research, you have the opportunity to try investigational medicines for breast cancer. Participation is especially important for communities of color who have historically been left out of the clinical research process.

Here are a few benefits of participating:

  • Access to investigational medicines being studied 
  • Close monitoring of your health from professionals 
  • Helping to improve treatment for people with similar conditions now and in the future

NOWINCLUDED community member, Joanne, explains why she decided to participate in a clinical research opportunity:

Have you participated in a clinical research study?

Share your story with our community to spread awareness!

You are never alone

We are sharing stories from community members living with breast cancer and their caregivers to make sure you know you are never alone in this journey. Hear from people just like you who have found strength amidst the uncertainty of breast cancer.

Chynell Berry

Chynell wants everyone to know that early detection is essential for our communities.

linda jones

Linda shares her own health story to help educate others.

Shantel Ervin 1

Shantel's support system helped her fight breast cancer's toughest challenges... in style!

Remembering Shantel’s fighting spirit 10/3/72 - 11/10/23

Navigating Your Breast Cancer Journey

A Helping hand

Check out our partners and trusted resources.


Learn more about Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) and who may be at risk for developing the disease.


This organization is focused on helping underserved communities learn more about breast health, so that everyone has an equal chance of staying healthy. 

Early Detection Guide

This guide will help you know what to look for and help you note important information to share with your healthcare provider. 

Educational Videos

Interested in more stories from those living with breast cancer? Listen and watch Black women talk about their experiences.

help us spread the word!

Check out our Rooted Resilience toolkit to share on your platforms.


Our NOWINCLUDED cancer community is here to support you and anyone you love. If you’re not already a member, join today! It’s free. 

As a member you gain:
  • Access to health experts and resources created just for you 
  • Connection with people who may share your lived experiences
  • A platform to share your story and hear other people’s health stories
  • Early access to local and virtual events that may interest you

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