A lump in the breast is almost always cancer.
The opposite is true: most breast changes and even most breast lumps are not cancer. Non-cancerous changes in the breasts are common. The main types of benign breast conditions involve fibrosis (scarring) and cysts. Benign tumors called fibroadenomas are also common. It's important to see a health care provider as soon as possible if you feel an abnormality in your breasts.
Doctors recommend breast self-exams (BSE) once per year.
Formerly, it was recommended that women perform breast self-examination (BSE) once per month. Currently, it is believed that it is more important for a woman to know the normal feel and appearance of her breasts and be aware of any changes rather than following a prescribed schedule. BSE is still an option for women who choose to perform this step as part of their breast awareness.
Risk for breast cancer can be inherited.
If you have a strong (positive) family history for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or even prostate cancer, this information is relevant to your diagnosis. A strong family history in this case usually means that a mother, sibling, child, or father has had a related malignancy. Information about other family members (aunts, nieces, etc.) is also important.
Which is NOT a term describing a normal part of the breast?
Mastalgia refers to pain in the breast and does not refer to a part of the breast itself.
Breast cancer starts because abnormal cells grow out of control.
All cancers are characterized by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Normal cells have a fixed life span but cancer cells have overcome these growth restrictions and continue to grow past the point at which normal cells would stop growth. Cancer cells also have the ability to invade (spread and grow into) other tissues in the body, a capability normal cells do not have.
Which is the most common form of breast cancer?
Infiltrating or invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is more common than other types of breast cancer. This type of cancer arises in the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast. About 80% of breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas.
The medical term for the spread of cancer is called ________________.
Metastasis refers to the process in which cancer cells spread from the place they started (the primary site) to other parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic systems. The bone, liver, and lung are common sites for cancer to metastasize. Cancers are named according to their primary site (where they began) instead of the location of the metastasis. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is metastatic breast cancer, not liver cancer.
Benign tumors in the breast are capable of metastasis.
Benign tumors are not considered to be a form of cancer and therefore do not metastasize. They have not acquired the capability of uncontrolled growth like malignant tumors, and they cannot grow into (invade) other tissues. Benign tumors typically do not recur after they have been surgically removed.
What are some breast cancer risk factors for women?
Certain factors increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Risk factors can be within a person's control, such as diet and alcohol consumption. Other risk factors include race, family history, and age, and are beyond a person's control. Alcohol use, having children later in life (after 30), not having children, and overweight/obesity are all factors that can raise the risk of getting breast cancer.
In the U.S., breast cancer is the main cause of cancer deaths in women.
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women, after lung cancer, even though many more women are affected. Effective screening and improved treatments mean many women can be cured of the disease, especially when it is discovered at an early stage.
Where is the highest concentration of breast cancer in the United States?
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) State Cancer Profiles, the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in the country.
Which state has the lowest incidence of breast cancer nationwide?
Arkansas has the lowest incidence rate of breast cancer in the U.S., according to NIH and CDC data.
Breast pain is a common symptom of breast cancer.
Breast pain is not a common symptom of breast cancer. Sometimes, breast cancers are found by screening when they are very small and do not produce symptoms. When they do cause symptoms, a mass or lump in the breast is the most common symptom. Other possible symptoms of breast cancer are skin irritation, redness, dimpling, and thickening; retraction of the nipple; nipple discharge, and swelling of all or part of the breast.
You or someone you know has found a lump in the breast. Now what?
As stated before, most breast lumps or masses are not cancer. Lumps in the breast may be related to the menstrual cycle in younger women and may even come and go depending on the cycle. But it is always best to have any lump checked out by a health care provider.
Images provided by:
4. MedicineNet Illustration
Cancer.org. Benign breast conditions: Not All Lumps Are Cancer.
Cancer.org. Breast Awareness and Self-Exam.
Breastcancer.org. Can I Inherit Breast Cancer?
National Cancer Institute: Breast Cancer Risk Factors
National Cancer Institute. The Breasts.
The American Cancer Society. How Cancer Starts.
American Cancer Society. Types of Breast Cancers.
National Cancer Institute: Metastatic Cancer.
National Cancer Institute: Cancer Cells.
American Cancer Society. What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?
Womenshealth.gov. Breast Cancer
NIH and CDC State Cancer Profiles
American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer.
Susan G. Komen. Facts for Life. When You Discover a Lump or Change.
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