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Breast Cancer (4)

Who gets breast cancer?

Breast cancer primarily affects females, however approximately 1 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men. Any woman is at risk, and her risk of getting breast cancer increases with age.

Being female — regardless of age or ethnicity — is the number one risk factor for breast cancer. Aside from gender, there are other factors that may further any woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

Women with personal or family histories of either breast cancer or ovarian cancer are at high risk, as are women with certain genetic abnormalities such as BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes. Additionally, women who begin their menstrual cycles before age 12 or began menopause before age 50 are at higher risk for breast cancer. Women who are overweight and inactice are at high risk. Long term use of hormone replacement therapy and radiation therapy to the chest increase a woman’s risk, as well.

Because the majority of breast cancer cases occur in women without any of the previous risk factors, lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are also believed to contribute to the development of breast cancer.

What is the difference between invasive breast cancer and carcinoma in situ?

Invasive breast cancer tends to be the more serious of the two types, because the abnormal and cancerous cells within the lobules or ducts break out into surrounding breast tissue. This allows the cancer to spread to the lymph nodes. In more advanced stages, cancer may also reach vital organs such as the liver, lungs or bones.

Carcinoma in situ is a condition in which abnormal cells grow inside the lobules or ducts and remain contained. Because these cells have not developed the ability to invade tissues beyond the ducts or lobules, they are not considered fully cancerous. Although carcinoma in situ has been deemed a pre-cancerous condition, it is important to recognize that it may increase the risk of, or develop into, invasive cancer.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms within breast tissues. It occurs in both men and women, though it is extremely rare among men. Following skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States today. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 207,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with this disease yearly.

Breast cancer is caused by uncontrolled cell division and growth, and usually develops within the mammary ducts or lobules. Cancerous breast tumors typically mature at a slow rate. It is highly possible that a tumor may continue growing for up to 10 years before it becomes large enough to be felt as a lump. Breast cancer is usually separated into two categories: invasive and carcinoma in situ.

What are symptoms of breast cancer?

  • A lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast
  • A lump in the underarm area
  • Change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Nipple pain, tenderness or discharge, including bleeding
  • Itchiness, scales, soreness or rash on nipple
  • Nipple turning inward or inverted
  • Change in skin color and texture: dimpling, puckering or redness
  • Breast that feels warm or swollen