GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The CDC reports it’s the most common cancer among women, besides skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with an oncologist who shares why early detection is key to survival.

There are several types of breast cancer.

“Breast cancer is a growth of abnormal tissue that comes from the normal structures of the breast and it evolves into a growth that is uncontrolled.”

Dr. Stephen Dyar / Oncologist, Bon Secours. St Francis Health

Dr. Stephen Dyar, an oncologist, says one type of breast cancer is most common.

“It’s called ductal cancer or ductal carcinoma, and that’s cancer that’s derived from the actual milk ducts,” Dr. Dyar said.

Breast cancer occurs mostly in women, but men can be affected too.

1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States occurs in men.

When breast cancer is detected early, before it has spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Many times we will be able to catch a breast cancer on a mammogram well before it starts to cause any symptoms. The earlier we catch it, the more likely it is to be cured,” Dr. Dyar said.

Dr. Dyar says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a mammogram every two years for women who are 50 to 74 years old.

At age 40, women should talk with their doctor about screening. Some women are at higher risk for breast cancer and will likely need to start screening sooner.

“We know that family history is also a risk factor, especially first-degree relatives that have been affected. So, if you have a mother or a daughter or a sibling that’s been affected by breast cancer, that significantly increases your risk of being diagnosed.”

Dr. Stephen Dyar / Oncologist, Bon Secours. St Francis Health

If a lump is found in the breast tissue, a biopsy will be done to determine if it is cancerous. If it is, a wide variety of treatment options are available. When caught early, chemotherapy can often be avoided.

“Because we’ve got some other alternatives to that. Things like hormone-blocking therapy. A lot of breast cancers are fed by estrogen,” Dr. Dyar said.

Breast self-exams are an important way to find breast cancer early.

If you notice changes, pain, or feel a lump– don’t panic. But, do call your primary care provider or ob-gyn to have it examined.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.