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From the Breast Health Articles List

Breast Cancer 101What do I need to know about breast cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), breast cancer is the second most common cancer for American women, and about 12%, or 1 in 8, women will develop breast cancer sometime during their life. For 2014, they predict about 232,670 new cases of invasive breast and 62,570 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. They also predict about 40,000 women will die from breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in women.(a)

The breast is made up of three main parts: lobules (milk-producing glands), ducts (tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple), and stroma (fatty and connective tissue). The most common type of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma, develops in the breast ducts. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), about 7 out of every 10 women with breast cancer will have this type of cancer. The NCI also states that about 1 in 10 women with breast cancer will have lobular carcinonma, the second most common type of breast cancer, which begins in the lobules of the breast. The remaining women with breast cancer will have less common types or a mixture of ductal and lobular type of cancer.(b)

If you are diagnosed, the stage and type of your breast cancer are two factors that will help determine your treatment options. Other factors can include your overall health and specifics about your tumor such as its size and hormone receptors. Your treatments may include a single option or a combination of therapies ranging from surgery, radiation, hormones, and/or chemotherapy. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more effective treatment and prognosis may be. If the cancer has spread, treatment becomes more difficult, but it can still be effective.

Breast cancer can spread through the lymphatic system, which can increase your risk of it spreading to other locations. The more lymph nodes that are involved, the greater the risk of the cancer involving other organs. Lymph nodes under the arm and up to the collarbone can be affected, so it is important to check these areas with your regular self breast exams.

There are several risk factors for breast cancer from lifestyle to genetics. Race, ethnicity, and breast tissue can also play a role, as does exposure to DES. Though breast cancer is not preventable, you can lower your risks by getting regular screenings, following a healthy lifestyle, limiting alcohol, and talking to your doctor about genetic factors.

If you have first degree relatives with breast cancer, a genetic counselor and knowledgeable oncologist could help you assess your risks and determine if prophylactic treatment is right for you. If you suspect or are diagnosed with breast cancer, a second opinion can provide you with more information so you can make a knowledgeable decision for you.

(a) ACS: What are the key statistics about breast cancer?
(b) NCI: What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

05-27-2014 - 08:48 PM


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