Raising Awareness of the No. 1 Diagnosed Cancer in North Dakota Women

Breast cancer is the No. 1 diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in North Dakota women. The American Cancer Society estimates about one in eight U.S. women and (one in 833 U.S. men) will develop invasive breast cancer during the course of their lives. The good news is that mammograms can help find breast cancer early before it spreads to other parts of the body.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has grown in recognition since the annual campaigns began in 1985. October has become synonymous with “pink” awareness events across the globe. This attention provides an opportunity to come together to raise awareness; promote education, screening and early detection; honor those we’ve lost; and support patients and survivors.

Mammography is the most effective screening tool used today to find breast cancer in most women. These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer:

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should talk with their health care provider and together decide when to start getting mammograms.
  • Women ages 45 to 54 should receive annual mammograms.
  • Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 years or longer.

These are some breast cancer risk factors you cannot change:

  • Gender: Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
  • Age: The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50.
  • Race: Breast cancer is diagnosed more often in Caucasian women than women of other races.
  • Family history and genetic factors: If your mother, sister, father or child has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the future. Your risk increases if your relative was diagnosed before the age of 50.
  • Personal health history: If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast in the future.
  • Menstrual and reproductive history: Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Certain genome changes: Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Dense breast tissue: Having dense breast tissue can increase your risk for breast cancer and make lumps harder to detect. Be sure to ask your physician if you have dense breasts and what the implications of having dense breasts are.

Breast cancer risk factors you can change:

  • Lack of physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity can increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Poor diet: A diet high in saturated fat and lacking fruits and vegetables can increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Being overweight or obese: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for breast cancer. Your risk is increased if you have already gone through menopause.
  • Drinking alcohol: Frequent consumption of alcohol can increase your risk for breast cancer. The more alcohol you consume, the greater the risk.
  • Combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT): Taking combined hormone replacement therapy, as prescribed for menopause, can increase your risk for breast cancer and increases the risk that the cancer will be detected at a more advanced stage.

Most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. The numbers remind us there is still urgent work to do — more than we can accomplish in just one month. Raising awareness of breast cancer is a group effort to increase the early detection of breast cancer by encouraging women to have mammograms. Have you had yours?



  • Geneal Roth, Coalition Manager, North Dakota Cancer Coalition (NDCC), contact@ndcancercoalition.org. The NDCC brings together individuals and organizations from the public and private sector with an interest in all aspects of cancer prevention and control. The members work collaboratively to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer for all North Dakotans through prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship. Visit the NDCC website to learn more: https://www.ndcancercoalition.org.
  • Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist and chair, North Dakota Cancer Coalition.


Scroll to Top
Skip to content