Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one of several areas of the breast, including the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, small sacs that produce milk (lobules), and nonglandular tissue. Sometimes breast cancer stays in the tissue in which it began. Bit it can also move into other nearby tissue or lymph nodes.

Breast cancer does not discriminate. It affects mothers, daughters, working women, celebrities — and even some men. For women, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1 in 8; for men it is 1 in 1,000.

Some women are more likely to develop breast cancer than others. They include older women; those who have a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer; those who have previously had breast cancer or a benign breast condition; women with dense breasts; those who have had radiation to the chest or breast; and women who drink a lot of alcohol. Having several risk factors doesn't mean a woman will inevitably develop breast cancer. Likewise, having few risk factors doesn't offer 100% protection against it.

Treatments for breast cancer include removal of the affected breast (mastectomy), removal of the tumor and small amount of surrounding tissue (lumpectomy), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.

Breast Cancer Articles

Can I outwalk breast cancer?

Walking an average of an hour a day may reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. (Locked) More »

Are you old enough to give up your screening mammogram?

There is no universal age to stop screening mammography, but women over 75 should discuss with their doctors whether to continue. Women who are in poor health, have a reduced life expectancy, or are unwilling or unable to tolerate cancer treatments may want to stop screenings. But screenings might be appropriate in older women who are in good health and are willing to undergo cancer treatments if needed. (Locked) More »

Toxic beauty

Personal care products contain numerous chemicals that are, in many cases, untested and not confirmed to be safe. Recent studies have linked hair dyes and straighteners to a higher risk of breast cancer. Experts say women should take more time to consider what’s in the products they are using. More »

Hormones and breast cancer: What you should know

Hormone therapy is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. A new study shows that risk is higher with both estrogen-only hormone therapy and progesterone-estrogen combination therapy. In addition, women who take hormones for a longer time have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. If a woman opts to take hormone therapy, it should be for as short a period as possible to manage symptoms. (Locked) More »

Excisional Biopsy of the Breast

In an excisional biopsy of the breast, the surgeon makes an incision in the skin and removes all or part of the abnormal tissue for examination under a microscope. Unlike needle biopsies, a surgical biopsy leaves a visible scar on the breast and sometimes causes a noticeable change in the breast's shape. It's a good idea to discuss the placement and length of the incision with your surgeon beforehand. Also ask your surgeon about scarring and the possibility of changes to your breast shape and size after healing, as well as the choice between local anesthesia and general anesthesia. You'll undergo a breast exam and possibly a mammogram before the biopsy to determine where the lump is located. If you are having a sedative with local anesthesia, or if you are having general anesthesia, you'll be asked not to eat anything after midnight on the day before the surgery. Tell your doctor if you're taking insulin, NSAIDs, or any medicine that can affect blood clotting. You might have to stop or adjust the dose of these medicines before your test. (Locked) More »