Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer facts

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.
  • One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
  • There are many types of breast cancer that differ in their capability of spreading (metastasize) to other body tissues.
  • The causes of breast cancer are not yet fully known, although a number of risk factors have been identified.
  • There are many different types of breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer symptoms and signs include
  • Breast cancer is diagnosed during a physical exam, by self-examination of the breasts, mammography, ultrasound testing, and biopsy.
  • Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage (0-IV) and may involve surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Breast cancer pictures
X-rays of breast cancer. Images courtesy of Getty Images.

According to the American Cancer society:

  • over 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year in women and over 2,000 in men;
  • approximately 40,000 women and 400 men died of breast cancer in 2011;
  • there are over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States;
  • although breast cancer survival and awareness has increased significantly in the United States for all races, several studies have cited a significantly worse survival rate for African-American women compared to white women;
  • guidelines for mammography differ depending on the organization making recommendations. Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40 for women at average risk for breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor (a collection of cancer cells) arising from the cells of the breast. Although breast cancer predominantly occurs in women, it can also affect men. This article deals with breast cancer in women.

Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Picture of the anatomy of the breast
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2015

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Breast cancer symptoms and signs include nipple discharge, a lump, or pain in the breast.

Breast Cancer Symptoms & Signs

Breast cancer does not always produce symptoms; women may have cancers that are so small they do not produce masses that can be felt or other recognizable changes in the breast. When symptoms do occur, a lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom.

Other possible symptoms include

  • nipple discharge or redness,
  • changes in the skin such as puckering or dimpling,
  • and swelling of part of the breast.