More than 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. Breast cancer accounts for more than 30 percent of all cancers found in women.
Breast cancer is not selective. The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and while it occurs more often in women who are over the age of 50, younger women are at risk too.
Early detection is the key to fighting breast cancer. The early stages of breast cancer, especially those found from self-screening, are the most successfully treated. Many diagnosed women discover their own breast cancer through changes in the look and feel of their breasts. You can become familiar with your breast tissue by looking at and feeling your breasts each month to learn what is normal for your body.
Noninvasive Breast Cancer:
- Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) - cancer cells are limited to only the lining of the breast milk duct.
- Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS) - is not cancer but an increased risk of breast cancer.
Common Invasive Breast Cancer:
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) - cancer cells that start in the breast milk duct area can spread to surrounding tissue and parts of the body.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) - cancer cells that start in the milk-producing glands or lobules can spread to surrounding tissue and parts of the body.
Less Common Invasive Breast Cancer:
- Triple-Negative Breast Cancer - cancer cells have tested negative for hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR).
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) - cancer cells spread through the skin of the breast and lymph vessels.
- Metastatic Breast Cancer - cancer cells start in the breast and can spread to other areas of the body such as the lungs, bone or brain.
- Paget Disease of the Nipple - cancer cells that start in the breast milk ducts and spread to the skin of the nipple and then to the areola.
- Phyllodes Tumor of the Breast - a rare breast tumor that develops in the connective tissue of the breast.
- Medullary Carcinoma - a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma; cancer cells form a spongy or fleshy mass.
- Tubular Carcinoma - a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma; cancer cells are tubular in structure.
- Mucinous Carcinoma - a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma, cancer cells that produce mucin an ingredient for mucus.
- Papillary Carcinoma - a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma, tumors having a well-defined border and are form finger-like projections.
- Cribriform Carcinoma - a subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma; cancer cells collect and form a tumor in the connective tissues of the breast between the breast milk ducts and lobules.
- Angiosarcoma - cancer cells that start in cells that line blood vessels or lymph vessels. Rarely occurs in the breasts.
Breast cancer symptoms may include:
- A lump or thickening in the breast or underarm
- Nipple tenderness or pain in any area of the breast
- Dimpling on the surface of the breast
- Nipple has turned slightly inward or became inverted
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly or is bloody
- Skin of the nipple or breast area is reddish, flaky or pitted, similar to the texture of an orange peel
- Size or shape of the breast has changed, especially if only on one side
Breast awareness is crucial to prevention and early detection. The MemorialCare Breast Center urges you to report any breast cancer symptoms that you may find in a monthly exam to your doctor.
Risk Factors & Prevention
Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. Some women are genetically predisposed to the disease. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer have no risk factors other than being female. Many lead healthy lives and have no symptoms until a mammogram detects an abnormality. Others find an unfamiliar change in the breast and seek care.
Breast Cancer Screening:
- 20 years of age or older - women should perform breast self-examinations to be more aware of how their breasts look and feel. There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts, as long as you learn the entire area of your breast tissue – from your collarbone, under your armpits and your nipples – well enough to notice any changes. The best time to perform a breast self-exam is after your menstrual cycle ends each month, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen. If you no longer have your menstrual cycle, choose a day that’s easy to remember for your self-exam. You may also view How to Do Breast Self-Exams.
Regular Clinical Breast Examinations by a Doctor
- 20 to 39 years of age - a clinical breast exam should be part of your regular women's physical and performed every three years.
- 40 years of age or older - a clinical breast exam should be part of your regular women's physical and performed every year.
- 20 to 39 years of age - if you are at high risk for breast cancer, ask your doctor if you should begin having mammograms or other screenings sooner.
- 40 years of age or older - annual mammogram. If you are at high risk for breast cancer, ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you.
Things you can do to help prevent breast cancer:
- Eat low fat foods; a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Exercise more than 30 minutes per day a minimum of five days a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink no more than one alcoholic drink a day.
- Limit use of postmenopausal hormones.
- If you have a newborn, breastfeed your baby.