What is breast cancer? Breast cancer facts, types, stages, signs, symptoms
Learn more about breast cancer and find out what is breast cancer, breast cancer survival rates, symbol, symptoms, signs of breast cancer, breast cancer stages, types of breast cancer through our list of breast cancer facts, facts about breast cancer. Human facts
Breast cancer facts and awareness
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. The damaged cells can invade surrounding tissue, but with early detection and treatment, most people continue a normal life.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
We do not know what causes breast cancer, although we do know that certain risk factors may put you at higher risk of developing it. A person’s age, genetic factors, personal health history, and diet all contribute to breast cancer risk.
Who Gets Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer ranks second as a cause of cancer death in women (after lung cancer). Today, about 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2015, about 231,840 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and about 40,290 will die from the disease.
Only 5% to 10% of breast cancers occur in women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease. The majority of breast cancer cases are “sporadic,” meaning there is no direct family history of the disease. The risk for developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages.
What Are the Symptoms and signs of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer early signs and symptoms
- Lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that persists through the menstrual cycle.
- A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea.
- A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
- A blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple.
- A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple (dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed).
- Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
- A change in shape or position of the nipple
- An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast.
- A marble-like hardened area under the skin.
What Are the Types of Breast Cancer?
The most common types of breast cancer are:
- Invasive (or infiltrating) ductal carcinoma. This cancer starts in the milk ducts of the breast. Then it breaks through the wall of the duct and invades the fatty tissue of the breast. This is the most common form of breast cancer, accounting for 80% of invasive cases.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is ductal carcinoma in its earliest stage (stage 0). “In situ” refers to the fact that the cancer hasn’t spread beyond its point of origin. In this case, the disease is confined to the milk ducts and has not invaded nearby breast tissue. If untreated, ductal carcinoma in situ may become invasive cancer. It is often curable.
- Infiltrating (invasive) lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins in the lobules of the breast where breast milk is produced, but has spread to surrounding tissues or other parts of the body. It accounts for about 10% of invasive breast cancers.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is cancer that is only in the lobules of the breast. It isn’t a true cancer, but serves as a marker for the increased risk of developing breast cancer later. Thus, it is important for women with lobular carcinoma in situ to have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.
In addition, there are several other less common types of breast cancer.
Check regularly for breast cancer prevention
What Are the Stages of Breast Cancer?
- Early stage or stage 0 breast cancer is when the disease is localized to the breast with no evidence of spread to the lymph nodes (carcinoma in situ).
- Stage 1 breast cancer: The cancer is 2 centimeters or less in size and it hasn’t spread anywhere.
- Stage 2A breast cancer is a tumor smaller than 2 centimeters across with lymph node involvement or a tumor that is larger than 2 but less than 5 centimeters across without underarm lymph node involvement.
- Stage 2B is a tumor that is greater than 5 centimeters across without underarm lymph nodes testing positive for cancer or a tumor that is larger than 2 but less than 5 centimeters across with lymph node involvement.
- Stage 3A breast cancer is also called locally advanced breast cancer. The tumor is larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or near the breastbone, or a tumor that is any size with cancerous lymph nodes that adhere to one another or surrounding tissue.
- Stage 3B breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread to the skin or chest wall.
- Stage 3C breast cancer is a tumor of any size that has spread more extensively and involves more lymph node invasion.
- Stage 4 breast cancer is defined as a tumor, regardless of size, that has spread to places far away from the breast, such as bones, lungs, liver, brain, or distant lymph nodes.
Breast cancer survival rates
The stage of breast cancer influences survival rate and life expectancy the most as it determines how advanced the disease is. In general, stage 0 and 1 breast cancers have near 100% 5-year survival rate, stage 2 over 90%, stage 4 over 70%, and stage 4 over 20% 5-year survival rate.
As the survival period prolongs, this rates decrease – a stage 4 breast cancer, for example, has a 10-year survival rate of about 10% at optimal medical care.