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

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 »

Another drug prevents breast cancer in postmenopausal women

Exemestane (Aromasin), tamoxifen (Nolvadex, generic) and raloxifene (Evista) are three drugs used to prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at elevated risk for the disease. Exemestane appears to have less frightening side effects — hot flashes, joint pain, and loss of bone density. All three of these drugs target estrogen, which fuels the growth of most breast cancers, but exemestane belongs to a different class of drugs, called aromatase inhibitors, which work by blocking the body's production of estrogen. Previous studies have shown that aromatase inhibitors are more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer from recurring. This study, funded Pfizer, and conducted under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute's clinical trials unit, looked at whether exemestane could reduce the likelihood of a first occurrence of breast cancer. (Locked) 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 »

Soy may be okay for breast cancer survivors

Soy seemed to be just the ticket for women: heart-healthy, good for bones, and helpful for hot flashes. And then there was the low rate of breast cancer in soy-consuming countries. Early research indicated that soy protein could lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. The latest study suggests that breast cancer survivors can eat soy foods in moderation. (Locked) More »