1 in 16 women will die from breast cancer
At age 34, Lisa was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. Her annual mammogram saved her life.
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Like most women, Lisa leads a very active life. Between working a full-time job, her kids and her husband, not to mention being active in community affairs, there are lots of times when taking even an hour for herself seems selfish. But Lisa is also very aware that breast cancer effects 1 in every 8 women in the general population. She should be. She lost 2 of her closest friends to breast cancer and her sister is a breast cancer survivor. As a result, no matter how busy she may be, she’s never too busy for her annual mammogram. This year it literally saved her life.
Breast cancer (malignant breast neoplasm) is cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas; those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas. The size, stage, rate of growth, and other characteristics of the tumor determine the kinds of treatment. Treatment may include surgery, drugs (hormonal therapy and chemotherapy), radiation and/or immunotherapy. Surgical removal of the tumor provides the single largest benefit, with surgery alone being capable of producing a cure in many cases. To somewhat increase the likelihood of long-term disease-free survival, several chemotherapy regimens are commonly given in addition to surgery. Most forms of chemotherapy kill cells that are dividing rapidly anywhere in the body, and as a result cause temporary hair loss and digestive disturbances. Radiation may be added to kill any cancer cells in the breast that were missed by the surgery, which usually extends survival somewhat, although radiation exposure to the heart may cause heart failure in the future. Some breast cancers are sensitive to hormones such as estrogen and/or progesterone, which makes it possible to treat them by blocking the effects of these hormones.
Prognosis and survival rate varies greatly depending on cancer type and staging. With best treatment and dependent on staging, 5-year relative survival varies from 98% to 23, with an overall survival rate of 85%.
Worldwide, breast cancer comprises 22.9% of all non-melanoma skin cancers in women. In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503 deaths worldwide (13.7% of cancer deaths in women). Breast cancer is more than 100 times more common in women than breast cancer in men, although males tend to have poorer outcomes due to delays in diagnosis.
Breast cancer screening refers to the medical screening of asymptomatic, apparently healthy women for breast cancer in an attempt to achieve an earlier diagnosis. The assumption is that early detection will improve outcomes. A number of screening test have been employed including: clinical and self breast exams, mammography, genetic screening, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging.
A clinical or self breast exam involves feeling the breast for lumps or other abnormalities. Evidence however does not support its use in women with a typical risk for breast cancer. The use of mammography in universal screening for breast cancer is also controversial. The Cochrane collaboration in 2009 concluded that it is unclear whether screening does more good than harm. Many national organizations still recommend it for most older women. If screening mammography (as opposed to diagnostic mammography) is chosen for women at normal risk for breast cancer, it should only be done every two years in women between the ages of 50 and 74. Several tools are available to help target breast cancer screening to older women with longer life expectancies. Similar imaging studies can be performed with magnetic resonance imaging.
Earlier, more aggressive, and more frequent screening is recommended for women at particularly high risk of developing breast cancer, such as those with a confirmed BRCA mutation, those who have previously had breast cancer, and those with a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer.
Abnormal findings on screening are further investigated by surgically removing a piece of the suspicious lumps (biopsy) to examine them under the microscope. Ultrasound may be used to guide the biopsy needle during the procedure. Magnetic resonance imaging is used to guide treatment, but is not an established screening method for healthy women
A clinical or self breast exam involves feeling the breast for lumps or other abnormalities. Research evidence does not support the effectiveness of either type of breast exam, because by the time a lump is large enough to be found it is likely to have been growing for several years and will soon be large enough to be found without an exam. Mammographic screening for breast cancer uses x-rays to examine the breast for any uncharacteristic masses or lumps. The Cochrane collaboration in 2009 concluded that mammograms reduce mortality from breast cancer by 15 percent but also result in unnecessary surgery and anxiety, resulting in their view that it is not clear whether mammography screening does more good or harm. Many national organizations recommend regular mammography, nevertheless. For the average woman, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammography every two years in women between the ages of 50 and 74. The Task Force points out that in addition to unnecessary surgery and anxiety, the risks of more frequent mammograms include a small but significant increase in breast cancer induced by radiation.
In women at high risk, such as those with a strong family history of cancer, mammography screening is recommended at an earlier age and additional testing may include genetic screening that tests for the BRCA genes and / or magnetic resonance imaging. Molecular breast imaging is currently under study and may also be an alternative
Signs and symptoms
The first noticeable symptom of breast cancer is typically a lump that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. More than 80% of breast cancer cases are discovered when the woman feels a lump. The earliest breast cancers are detected by a mammogram. Lumps found in lymph nodes located in the armpits can also indicate breast cancer.
Indications of breast cancer other than a lump may include changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling, nipple inversion, or spontaneous single-nipple discharge. Pain ("mastodynia") is an unreliable tool in determining the presence or absence of breast cancer, but may be indicative of other breast health issues.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a special type of breast cancer which can pose a substantial diagnostic challenge. Symptoms may resemble a breast inflammation and may include pain, swelling, nipple inversion, warmth and redness throughout the breast, as well as an orange-peel texture to the skin referred to as peau d'orange.
Another reported symptom complex of breast cancer is Paget's disease of the breast. This syndrome presents as eczematoid skin changes such as redness and mild flaking of the nipple skin. As Paget's advances, symptoms may include tingling, itching, increased sensitivity, burning, and pain. There may also be discharge from the nipple. Approximately half of women diagnosed with Paget's also have a lump in the breast.
In rare cases, what initially appears as a fibroadenoma (hard movable lump) could in fact be a phyllodes tumor. Phyllodes tumors are formed within the stroma (connective tissue) of the breast and contain glandular as well as stromal tissue. Phyllodes tumors are not staged in the usual sense; they are classified on the basis of their appearance under the microscope as benign, borderline, or malignant.
Occasionally, breast cancer presents as metastatic disease, that is, cancer that has spread beyond the original organ. Metastatic breast cancer will cause symptoms that depend on the location of metastasis. Common sites of metastasis include bone, liver, lung and brain. Unexplained weight loss can occasionally herald an occult breast cancer, as can symptoms of fevers or chills. Bone or joint pains can sometimes be manifestations of metastatic breast cancer, as can jaundice or neurological symptoms. These symptoms are "non-specific", meaning they can also be manifestations of many other illnesses.
Most symptoms of breast disorder do not turn out to represent underlying breast cancer. Benign breast diseases such as mastitis and fibroadenoma of the breast are more common causes of breast disorder symptoms. The appearance of a new symptom should be taken seriously by both patients and their doctors, because of the possibility of an underlying breast cancer at almost any age
Exercise may decrease breast cancer risk. Also avoiding alcohol and obesity. Prophylactic bilateral mastectomy may be considered in patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. A 2007 report concluded that women can somewhat reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol, being physically active and breastfeeding their children. (Content courtesy of Wikipedia)
And remember, most oncologists believe that if diagnosed early enough, a person has a 93% chance of living the rest of their lives, breast cancer free. There is no cure for breast cancer but early detection saves lives. 1 in 16 women will die from breast cancer.
Don’t you be the 1!
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