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

Medicines to prevent breast cancer

Certain medications can help lower a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer but low risk of side effects should talk with their primary care doctors—and consult with a breast cancer specialist—to see if these drugs are a good option for them. More »

Caution: Cancer risk elevated in women with dense breasts

The risk of dying from breast cancer does not appear to be greater in women with dense breasts who get breast cancer. That may be because women with breast cancer often are treated with medicines that lower estrogen levels and block the effects of estrogen. Women with dense breasts are advised to get a breast MRI in addition to a mammogram if they have a known hereditary cancer gene, a first-degree relative with the mutation, a history of radiation to the chest wall in adolescence, or a 20% to 25% or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer based on family history and other risks. (Locked) More »

Preventive mastectomy

Many women who have been diagnosed with cancer in one breast opt to have a preventive double mastectomy. Yet research finds that 70% of these women may be having the surgery unnecessarily. Experts say only women with specific risk factors are likely to benefit from preventive mastectomy. (Locked) More »