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About Breast Cancer
Welcome to the Breast Cancer Health Channel by eMedTV. Breast cancer is a condition in which abnormal cell growth occurs in the breast. While men can get breast cancer, it overwhelmingly affects women. Each year, more than 200,000 American women learn they have breast cancer and over 40,000 women die from the disease. With the exception of skin cancer, women get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
In most cases of the disease, the causes of breast cancer are not known. Researchers believe that heredity plays a role in approximately 5 to 10 percent of cases. Scientists have, however, identified risk factors that increase a woman's chance of developing breast cancer.
What Are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?
There are two primary types of breast cancer. Invasive breast cancer moves into the surrounding tissue; non-invasive breast cancer remains in the ducts or lobes. Within those two categories are several different types of breast cancer, such as infiltrating ductal carcinoma, Paget's disease of the nipple, intraductal carcinoma, and comedocarcinoma.
What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?
Risk factors for breast cancer include:
  • Age
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Family history
  • Certain breast changes
  • Gene changes
  • Reproductive and menstrual history
  • Race
  • Radiation to the chest
  • Breast density
  • Taking DES (diethylstilbestrol -- a synthetic estrogen)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.
Breast Cancer Screening
Screening for breast cancer is vital for early detection and treatment of the disease. Common breast cancer screening tools include mammograms and breast examinations. There are risks associated with breast cancer screening tools, so it's important to weigh these risks against the possible benefits of screening.
How Is Breast Cancer Treated?
Breast cancer treatment options will depend on the type of breast cancer, what stage the disease is in, and whether it is new or recurring cancer. Types of breast cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. Surgery is the most common breast cancer treatment.
Breast cancer treatment consists of either local therapy or systemic therapy.
Local Therapy
Surgery or radiation therapy is local breast cancer treatment. These treatments remove or destroy cancer in the breast. When breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body, local therapy may be used to control the disease in those specific areas.
Systemic Therapy
Systemic therapy (such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and biological therapy) enters the bloodstream and destroys or controls cancer throughout the body. Systemic therapy may be used to shrink the tumor before surgery or radiation. It may also be used after surgery and/or radiation to prevent the cancer from coming back. Systemic therapy may also used for cancer that has spread.
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