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

Breakthrough breast cancer drug

Some new hope for women with late-stage HER2-positive breast cancer: a new drug shows remarkable results in treating the disease. T-DM1 seeks out HER2 proteins on cancer cells and delivers chemotherapy directly to the cells. It can shrink cancer throughout the body significantly for about a year, giving women their lives back without serious side effects. T-DM1 doesn’t cause the usual hair loss, nausea, and diarrhea. T-DM1 is being fast-tracked for approval by the FDA and is expected to be available to women with advanced HER2-positive cancer by early 2013. (Locked) More »

Making smart screening decisions: Part 2: Breast cancer

It’s important for women to have annual mammograms starting at age 40, to catch breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable. The benefits of regular mammograms exceed the risks, which include minimal exposure to radiation. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer, or who have a lump, may also have additional screening with an ultrasound or MRI. Women who are comfortable doing breast self-exams should do them to look for changes in the breasts, or should at least see their doctor for an annual clinical breast exam. (Locked) More »

Follow-up

Further information about a breast cancer drug that may weaken the left ventricle. (Locked) More »

Risk factors for breast cancer

Not all women have the same risk for developing breast cancer over a lifetime. Certain factors increase a woman’s risk, and some have a bigger impact on risk than others. However, having several risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably develop breast cancer. Likewise, having few risk factors doesn’t mean that you’ll never develop it. Many risk factors, such as age and gender, are not within our control. Others, especially those related to personal behaviors, can be modified. (Locked) More »

The breast density-breast cancer connection

One of the strongest known risk factors for breast cancer is high breast density — that is, relatively little fat in the breast and more connective and glandular tissue, as seen on a mammogram. Now, a study has found that higher breast density in postmenopausal women increases the risk of specific types of breast cancer, including some that have a relatively poorer prognosis. More »

Preventing cancer: Are we getting closer?

A drug now used in breast cancer treatment may have the potential to prevent the disease in some women. Exemestane is in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors, which women take for several years after they've been treated for breast cancer to reduce the chances of getting breast cancer again. Aromatase is an enzyme that's crucial to the production of the hormone estrogen, which in many cases fuels the development and growth of breast cancer. So by inhibiting aromatase, exemestane lowers estrogen levels and therefore the risk of breast cancer recurrence. (Locked) More »