Formed from cells in the breast, breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it is far more common in women. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the U.S.
A better understanding of breast cancer, along with earlier detection, is increasing survival rates for those diagnosed with this deadly disease
- Change in breast size, shape, or appearance
- A lump or thickening in the breast that feels different from the surrounding tissue
- A newly inverted nipple
- Changes to the skin over the breast, possibly dimpling
- Peeling, scaling, crusting, or flaking of the areola or breast skin
As with all cancers, breast cancer occurs when breast cells begin to grow abnormally, dividing faster than regular cells and creating a lump or mass. Cancer cells then can spread to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer often begins with cells in the milk-producing ducts. Although some risk factors have been identified, people without any risks factors still develop cancer, while others with many risk factors do not. There seems to be an interaction between the person’s genetic makeup and their environment.
About 5-10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed from generation to generation in families.
These are the risk factors that increase your odds of developing breast cancer:
- Being a woman
- Increasing age
- Family history of breast cancer
- Certain inherited genes
- Radiation exposure
- Beginning your period before age 12
- Beginning menopause at an older age
- Having your first child after age 30
- Having never been pregnant
- Postmenopausal hormone therapy
- High alcohol consumption
Outside of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. women. The risk today for an American woman to develop breast cancer is about 12 percent, or a 1 in 8 chance.
Treatment options for breast cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.
- Lumpectomy — The surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of surrounding healthy tissue. This is often the surgery for smaller tumors. Large tumors may first be shrunk through chemotherapy before being removed with a lumpectomy.
- Mastectomy — This surgery removes all of the breast. This includes the lobules, ducts, fatty tissue, and skin including the nipple and areola.
- Sentinel node biopsy — The surgery removes the lymph nodes that are the first to receive the lymph drainage from the tumor.
- Removing both breasts — Some women with cancer in one breast opt to remove the other breast as well. This is often the case with those with high genetic disposition or family history.
Radiation can be directed either through external beams or by placing radioactive material inside the body.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy fast-growing cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used after surgery to decrease the odds of a recurrence of the cancer. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink larger tumors to make them easier to remove with later surgery.
Some breast cancers are sensitive to hormones. They are treated with hormone-blocking therapy. This may involve medications to block hormones from attaching to cancer cells or to stop the body from making estrogen after menopause. Surgery can also stop hormone production in the ovaries.
Targeted therapy drugs
Targeted drug treatments focus on attacking specific abnormalities in the breast cancer cells. This is a growing area of breast cancer research and treatment.
IvyGene Cancer Test
Individuals who confirm the presence of cancer in its early stages have a 79% 5-year survival rate, which is drastically higher than those who wait.
The IvyGene CORE Test can confirm the presence of breast cancer as early as stage 1. If you are interested in learning more about the IvyGene CORE test click the link below.