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

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 »

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 »