Breast Cancer

What is breast cancer and what part of the body does it affect?
Breast cancer is a malignant cancer that originates in cells of the breast. It affects the breast which is houses the mammary glands which produce milk during pregnancy. It can occur in both men and women, but it is far more prevalent in women.

Breast Cancer Basic Facts:

What are some of the risk factors associated with breast cancer?
Gender: Being female increases the risk of developing cancer
Age: Being 55 or older increases the risk for developing cancer
History of Cancer: Family history or personal history of breast cancer increases one’s risk of developing cancer later in life
Race: White women have the highest rates of incidence of breast cancer
Weight: Obesity increases one’s risk of developing breast cancer
Radiation Exposure: Exposure at a young age increases risk
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Incidence rates by race

What causes breast cancer?
As with any cancer, we do not yet know what causes this aggressive disease. We do not yet know what causes cells to start dividing uncontrollably, or what causes the growth-regulating gene to simply shut off. What researches suspect is that cancer is caused by a host of complex genetic and environmental factors, most of which we have yet to identify. Currently, it is clear that breast cancer is more prevalent in those who have a family history of the disease. Also scientists have identified two malfunctioning genes that are associated with increased risk of both ovarian and breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2.

What are some of the most common signs/symptoms of breast cancer?
Some of the most commons warning signs of breast cancer include abnormal lumps in the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple, abnormal size and shape of breast, redness, flaking, or changes to the surface of the breast.

How is breast cancer usually detected/diagnosed?
Routine self-examination of the breasts for abnormal lumps.
Mammogram: An x-ray of the breast used commonly for routine screening purposes.
Breast MRI: Uses magnet and radio waves to create an image of the interior of the breast
Breast tissue biopsy: Sampling of abnormal blood tissue for laboratory inspection to determine if the mass is malignant or benign.

What is the staging process with this type of cancer?
After diagnosis, a doctor needs to determine how much the cancer has progressed, he or she assigns the cancer level based on if it has spread, size of the lump, angiogenesis etc. Staging is used to determine prognosis and treatment options.
Breast Cancer staging: 0 to IV, 0 is small and noninvasive, IV is large and metastasis.

Survival rates based on stage of detection
5 year survival rates: 0-93%, I-88%, II-81%, III-67%, IV-15%
10 year survival rate for all stages: 82%

What are some of the most common treatment options for breast cancer?
Lumpectomy: Removing the localized lump of breast cancer
Side Effects: Scarring, Risk of infection and bleeding
Mastectomy: Removing the entire breast, sometimes including underlying muscle and nearby lymphnodes
Side Effects: Inability to produce milk, scarring risk of infection and bleeding, removal of entire breast causes many women to opt for breast reconstruction
Radiation Therapy: Aiming high powered beams of gamma radiation at areas with cancer to kill the malignant cells.
Side Effects: fatigue, rashes, change in texture of breast
Chemotherapy: Using drugs and toxins to kill cancer cells. often used before or after radiation to prevent metastasis and/or recurrence
Side Effects: hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fever, and frequent infection

*Usually, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation is most common.*

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What type of doctor would treat an individual with this type of cancer?
Medical Oncologist/Radiation Oncologist/Surgical Oncologist

Breast Cancer Statistics
-97% of breast cancer deaths will occur in women 40 years or older
-About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
-There were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S in 2010.
-Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women (28% of cancers in women are breast cancers)
-About 70%-80% of breast cancers occur in women with no history of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Patient Tells Us Her story:

Who are some well-known figures who have suffered from breast cancer?

Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon
Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Edwards
Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan

Works Cited

American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc.

Jamie, DePolo. "Breast Cancer Statistics." - Breast Cancer Treatment Information and Pictures., 21 Jan. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <>.

"Overview Guide." American Cancer Society :: Information and Resources for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Prostate, Lung and Other Forms. American Cancer Sociey, 24 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <>.

S, Pruthi. "Breast cancer -" Mayo Clinic, 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <>.

Shannon. "Sheryl Crow’s Nashville Farm: How Did Real Estate Gurus Miss This?" Famous Home Owners. 6 Dec. 2010. Web. 25 Mar. 2011. <>.

Wax, Arnold MD. "WebMD Breast Cancer Center: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Genes, Staging, Tests, and Treatments." WebMD - Better information. Better health.. WebMD, 20 June 2009. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

White, Edward MD. "Breast Cancer at a Glance." WebMD, 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <>.