Breast Cancer

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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.

Quick GuideBreast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

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.
Picture of a woman performing a self-examination of her breast
Picture of a woman performing a self-examination of her breast; photo courtesy of Getty Images

According to the American Cancer society

  • over 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year in women and over 2,300 in men;
  • approximately 40,000 women and 440 men died of breast cancer in 2015;
  • there are over 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States;
  • although breast cancer awareness and survival 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; and
  • guidelines for mammography differ depending on the organization making recommendations. Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women aged 45-54 for women at average risk for breast cancer and mammograms every two years for women aged 55 and older, who should also have the option to continue yearly screening.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2016

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