Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the breast. It is more common in women than in men. The American Cancer Society states that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women.
Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it is most common in women over the age of 50. Breast cancer is uncommon in women under age 40.
What are the types of breast cancer?
There are two main types of breast cancer:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC)
- Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)
IDC tumors are more likely to spread (metastasize) to other organs. These tumors are often more aggressive than other types of breast cancer.
ILC tumors are usually more common and have a better prognosis.
Which women are at greatest risk of breast cancer?
Women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer are usually over the age of 40 and have a family history of breast cancer, or have a personal history of breast cancer and have a family history of it.
Women who have a personal history of breast cancer and are over age 40 are also at increased risk for breast cancer.
Other conditions that may increase your risk of breast cancer include:
- Lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in fat and low in fiber
- Excess body weight
- Alcohol use
- A history of hormone therapy
- Radiation therapy
- A history of breast biopsy
- Inflammation of the breast
- Genetic factors
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and your family history of breast cancer. There are many possible risk factors for breast cancer. Some factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer include:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Personal history of cancer
- Personal history of benign breast disease (breast lumps)
- Radiation therapy, especially with X-rays
- Personal weight
- Personal height
- Personal alcohol use
- Personal diet (high in fat and low in fiber)
A physical exam and a breast exam will be performed.
Breast imaging and other tests such as blood tests and a biopsy may also be performed.
How is breast cancer staged?
Your doctor will determine the stage of your cancer. It is important to know the stage of your breast cancer because it affects your prognosis. The stage of your breast cancer is determined by the size, grade, and location of the tumor. There are three groups of breast cancer:
Localized breast cancer is breast cancer that has not spread to other areas of the body.
Regional breast cancer has spread to one or more nearby lymph nodes, but has not spread to other parts of the body.
Distant breast cancer has spread outside the breast.
Your doctor will also look at the tumor cells to determine whether they are cancerous or not.
How is breast cancer treated?
Treatment options for breast cancer depend on several factors such as the type of breast cancer, where the cancer cells are located, and how far the cancer has spread. The goal of treatment is to improve your quality of life.
The most common treatment options for breast cancer are:
Surgery for breast cancer is often the first treatment option. It is important to know the extent of the cancer and the best treatment options.
Surgery may be used alone or with other treatments, such as chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It can be used in combination with surgery to treat breast cancer.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific molecules in cancer cells. These drugs may be used to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Hormone therapy is the use of medications known as hormone therapy drugs to treat breast cancer. Hormone therapy can be used alone to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
Breast reconstruction is surgery to improve the appearance of the breast after it has been damaged by surgery.
Outlook for breast cancer
Breast cancer is usually treated successfully. In general, the outlook for breast cancer is good, even for advanced stages. Treatment can help improve your quality of life.
The American Cancer Society states that breast cancer has the best outlook of all cancers.
The 5year survival rate for breast cancer is 93% for localized breast cancer. This means that 93 out of 100 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are alive 5 years after they are diagnosed.
Survival rates are lower for women with advanced stages of breast cancer. The 5year survival rate for women with metastatic breast cancer is 35% or less.
What is the life expectancy for breast cancer?
A woman with breast cancer has a good outlook. Some women are able to live for many years after their diagnosis. The American Cancer Society states that women diagnosed with breast cancer have an average life expectancy after they are diagnosed.
How can I care for myself?
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may have questions about your treatment. Your doctor or nurse can explain your treatment plan and answer your questions.
You may also want to talk with a social worker or other member of your health care team if you have concerns about the cost of your treatment.
You can also ask your doctor to recommend a support group for breast cancer survivors.
When should I call my doctor?
- Bleeding or discharge from the nipple or areola
- Change in breast size, shape, or color, or a lump that is not going away
- Confusion, weakness, or sudden changes in mood or behavior
- The lump or swelling grows larger over 24 hours or 2 days
If you have questions about breast cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 18002272345.
Women with breast cancer have an average outlook. The outlook varies depending on how far the cancer has spread.
Survival rates are lower for women with metastatic breast cancer.
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