SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a disease that has affected countless lives here in the United States.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in America. Former Today Show host Katie Couric recently opening up about being diagnosed with the disease, “I was stunned. I think those words, ‘It’s cancerous’ or ‘You have cancer’ do stop you in your tracks.”

Couric’s diagnosis is revamping efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer and knowing the warning signs. There are different symptoms, including:

  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
  • Pain in any area of the breast
  • Nipple discharge, other than breast milk, including blood
  • A new lump in the breast or underarm

Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, doctors saying its also important to know if you have dense breasts when it comes to detection.

“Dense breast tissue is shown to have an increased risk of breast cancer. It can also be harder to detect breast cancer on mammograms on patients with dense tissue because breast cancer can be the same density that breast tissue is. So it can easily be masked by the dense breast tissue,” said Dr. Jennifer Hadro, Director of Breast Imaging at Baystate Health.

There are also some risk factors that affect your chance of getting breast cancer, including:

  • Being a woman
  • Age: Most breast cancers are found in women 50 or older
  • Changes in your BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes

Dr. Hadro says that keeping a healthy lifestyle like eating healthy and exercising regularly are some ways to help lower your risk. It is also recommended to self-examine for breast cancer at least once a month and if you have any questions, speak with your healthcare provider.