October Is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The American Cancer Society is the leader in the fight to end breast cancer:
We invest more in breast cancer research than any other cancer type – to find, prevent, treat, and cure the disease.
We’re in every community providing free information and services to people fighting the disease. Today, one in every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer turns to us for help and support.
We have helped more than 4 million women get potentially lifesaving breast cancer screening tests.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.

The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment. Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

For more information about breast cancer, how to find it early, and how to join the fight to end the disease, visit cancer.org/fightbreastcancer or contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 anytime, day or night.

The following steps can help you stay well and improve your odds against breast cancer.
The earlier breast cancer is found, the better. Sign up for our breast cancer screening reminder and we’ll remind you when it’s based on our early detection guidelines. If you are 40 or older, get a mammogram and breast exam every year and report any breast changes to your doctor right away.
You can help reduce your breast cancer risk by maintaining a healthy weight throughout life, being physically active on a regular basis (at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week) and limiting alcohol intake to less than 1 drink each day for women (2 drinks for men).
Learn more ways you can fight breast cancer


What is breast cancer?

The basics.
In breast cancer, certain cells in the breast grow uncontrollably, forming a solid mass called a tumor. Breast cancer occurs in 3 basic types: early-stage, metastatic, and recurrent:

In early-stage breast cancer, the tumor is confined to the place it started. It may not have spread at all, or it may have spread to the lymph nodes
In metastatic breast cancer, the disease has spread from its original location to other parts of the body
A breast cancer is called recurrent if it returns in a person who seemed to be disease-free after treatment
Most of the lumps that women find in the breast turn out not to be cancerous. These non-cancerous abnormalities are called benign. Sometimes the diagnosis isn’t clear right away. To know for sure whether or not a problem with the breast is a tumor, breast tissue must be examined under a microscope by a doctor called a pathologist.

In some women, the key female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, promote the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells. But not all breast cancers are caused by excess hormones.

What are the parts of the human breast?
The breast is an organ for making milk. To make a substance, the human body uses glands. The female breast is mostly made up of glands called lobules that make milk, as well as tiny tubes called ducts that carry milk from the lobules to the nipples. Also in the breast is a fatty tissue called stroma that surrounds the lobules, ducts, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels.

Usually, breast cancer begins in the cells of the ducts. Sometimes, however, breast cancer starts in the lobules or other tissues.

How common is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among U.S. women, after cancers of the skin. There are currently about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.

Breast cancer by the numbers.
In 2009, the American Cancer Society’s annual projections said that:

About 192,370 new cases of invasive (metastatic) breast cancer would be diagnosed in women

About 62,280 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) would be diagnosed. CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer
About 40,170 women would die from breast cancer
Currently, a woman’s chance of developing invasive (metastatic) breast cancer at some point in her life is less than 1 in 8 (12%). Her chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35 (3%).

Reasons to look forward with hope.
Incidences of breast cancer have been decreasing since 1999, and deaths due to breast cancer have been decreasing since 1990, thanks to earlier detection and improved treatment.

With more knowledge and support available to women than ever before, no one who gets cancer should have to face it by themselves.

Risk factors of breast cancer

Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Why do people get breast cancer?
Across all the people who get it, there’s no single reason why breast cancer occurs. Any one person’s risk of the disease is affected by various things—some of which can be changed, and some of which cannot.

Breast cancer risk factors you can’t change:
Being female: Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than in men
Age: Cancer risk goes up with time. About 2 out of 3 women with invasive breast cancer are age 55 or older
Genetics: Some 5% to 10% of breast cancers may be associated with genetic mutations
Family history: Having a close blood relative who’s experienced breast cancer increases a woman’s risk of getting the disease. However, as many as 8 out of 10 women with breast cancer don’t have a family history
Race: Caucasian women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer than are African-American women. Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian women have a lower risk of getting breast cancer
Breast cancer risk factors you can change:
Alcohol use: Women who have 2 to 5 drinks a day have about 1.5 times the breast cancer risk of women who don’t drink. Having 1 drink a day poses a very small increased risk
Excess weight: Being overweight or obese is linked to higher breast cancer risk, especially for women who have gone through menopause and for those who carry extra fat around the waist
Inactivity: Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Symptoms
Often, the first sign of breast cancer can’t be felt.
But a mammogram may detect it. That first sign may be an abnormality in the breast that even a doctor can’t detect without performing an exam called a mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray exam of the breast that is used to find and evaluate abnormalities. In fact, even a large tumor may not cause symptoms and may not be found until a mammogram is performed. For this reason, doctors recommend that some women get mammograms yearly.

Both women who have no complaints or symptoms and women who have breast cancer symptoms can be evaluated with mammograms. Some of the most common breast-related complaints or symptoms include a lump or lumps, pain, or nipple discharge. Less common breast cancer symptoms include persistent changes to the breast such as thickening, tenderness, swelling, redness or scaliness, or nipple abnormalities.

Breast cancer symptoms can sometimes be surprising. It’s true that a hard, irregular mass in the breast is more likely than a soft mass to be cancerous. But some breast cancers are in fact tender, soft, or rounded.

Regular screening according to your doctor’s plan is the best way to find breast cancers before they cause symptoms—or spread through the body.

Breast Cancer Facts:

Get the facts about breast cancer

Breast cancer is serious. So are the people who fight it.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women (excluding skin cancers). But incidences of breast cancer have been decreasing since 1999, and deaths due to breast cancer have been decreasing since 1990. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, are a breast cancer survivor, or are caring for someone with the disease, it’s important to get the facts and to keep looking forward with hope.

Sanofi-aventis empowers patients through education.
By better understanding breast cancer, you may feel better able to consider the different options available to you, during and after treatment. CancerInformation.com offers in-depth information on breast cancer—from detection methods and risk factors to the various stages of the disease and the ways it’s treated

Men alike woman are not ammune to breast cancer!! Beware guys your Pecs are not safe either!

There are many types and forms of breast cancer:

Breast cancers are distinguished by where they start.
There are several different types of cancers that can form in the breast. Doctors generally group the types together based on where in the breast they start, meaning in what type of cells they’re found.

The main cells in the breast that can become cancerous are those of the lobes (glands that make milk, also called lobules) and the ducts (tiny tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipples).

Hormones can affect the growth of breast cancer.
Many types of breast cancer cells have what are called estrogen and/or progesterone “receptors,” or proteins on the outsides of the cells that can attach to hormones. Women with receptor-positive cancers tend to have better outlooks for treatment with hormone therapy.

Common types of breast cancer

Most breast cancers start in either the ducts or the lobules.
So the two main types of breast cancer are called ductal carcinomas (cancers that start in the ducts) and lobular carcinomas (cancers that start in the lobules). Each of these types has further subtypes, such as carcinoma in situ and invasive carcinoma.

Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer.

Often an early form of breast cancer, this cancer begins in the cells that line the breast’s milk ducts. Here are the main types of ductal carcinoma:

Ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, is cancer that has not spread to other tissues from the ducts
The most common type of ductal carcinoma and the most common type of breast cancer overall is invasive or infiltrating ductal carcinoma, or IDC. On mammograms, IDC lesions can show up as star-like or rounded. This cancer can spread into the other parts of the breast tissue and to other parts of the body
Lobular carcinoma is less common than ductal carcinoma.

This type of cancer begins in the cells of the breast’s lobes, or lobules. Lobules are glands that make milk. Here are some of the main types of lobular carcinoma:

With lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), cancer is found only in the lobules. This type of lobular carcinoma does not spread to other tissues very often
Invasive or Infiltrating lobular carcinoma, or ILC, accounts for about 5% of all breast cancer diagnoses and often starts with a subtle thickening in the upper-outer quadrant of the breast. Infiltrating lobular carcinomas often respond well to hormone therapy. This cancer can spread to nearby breast tissues and other parts of the body
Uncommon types of breast cancer

There are several other, less common types of breast cancer.
These include a condition called Paget’s disease of the nipple, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), male breast cancer, and several other types.

Paget’s disease is a rare condition in which cancer cells collect in the nipple: The cancer can then spread from the ducts of the nipple to the nipple’s surface. The nipple and areola (the dark circle of skin around the nipple) can then become red, itchy, and irritated. Paget’s disease accounts for fewer than 5% of breast cancer cases in the U.S. But 97% of people with Paget’s disease also have another cancer, somewhere else in the breast
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is very aggressive: This rare type of breast cancer causes the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast to become blocked. This cancer is called “inflammatory” because it often makes the breast look swollen and red—“inflamed.” IBC accounts for 1% to 5% of all breast cancer cases in the United States
Men can develop breast cancer—but they’re very unlikely to: Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. For the most part, men don’t produce a lot of female hormones, so they don’t develop breast gland tissue. Sometimes, however, men can have abnormal levels of certain hormones, or they take certain medicines that raise these levels. As a result, these men have increased amounts of breast tissue and can develop breast cancer
These are just a few of the rare cancers of the breast.
Still others—each accounting for no more than 1% to 3% of breast cancer diagnoses—include medullary carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, mucinous or colloid carcinoma, papillary carcinoma, adenocystic carcinoma, and sarcomas of the breast (cancers of the connective tissues, like muscle).


Your genes affect your breast cancer risk

Breast Cancer Genetics
What are genes, and what do they have to do with cancer?
Genes are instructions, written in DNA, that tell your body how to make the proteins it needs to function. You inherit your genes from your parents, who inherited their genes from their parents, and so on. Genes affect everything about your body, from your eye color and height to your breast cancer risk.

Genes can change over time. These changes are called mutations, and certain genetic mutations can make cells grow out of control, leading to cancer.

Only about 5% to 10% of cancers are believed to have a genetic component that strongly affects a person’s risk. But changes in some genes—such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for women whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer—can affect breast and ovarian cancer risk.

What is genetic testing, and when is it performed?
Genetic tests can show if someone has a certain mutation that will increase the risk of breast cancer. Not everyone needs to have breast cancer genetic testing performed. But if certain diseases such as breast cancer run in the family, genetic testing may be beneficial.

There are a few different types of genetic testing. Predictive gene testing looks for mutations that may put someone at risk for diseases such as breast cancer. Carrier testing can help couples find out if they may carry and possibly pass on a mutation to a child.

In addition, pregnant women can have their unborn children tested for certain conditions. And newborns may be screened. (Newborn screening is the most common form of genetic testing.)

Predictive gene testing and breast cancer.
For women who’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, a mutation in the BRCA genes means at least a 3-times-higher risk of developing cancer in the opposite breast over the next 10 years, compared to recently diagnosed women without the mutation.

Women with the BRCA mutations also have a higher risk of developing a second breast cancer in the same breast, if they have a lumpectomy (surgery to remove the tumor, leaving as much of the breast in place as possible) versus a mastectomy (surgery to remove the entire breast).

Genetic testing can also be used to help plan treatment.
Instead of determining a person’s cancer risk, genetic testing can also be used to find out more about a cancer that’s already present. Genetic testing can give information on how someone may benefit from certain treatments. Talk to your healthcare team to see if this testing is right for you.

Who should look into breast cancer genetic testing?
If you have the following family associations with breast cancer, you may want to consider predictive genetic testing:

Several first-degree relatives (mother, father, sister, brother) with cancer, particularly with the same type of cancer
Family members who developed cancer at a young age
Family members with rare cancers
A genetic mutation in the family. You would find this out from a family member who had genetic testing
A word of caution about genetic testing.
Although genetic testing makes sense for some women with a family background of cancer, women should consider how knowing that they have a certain genetic mutation could affect their families, especially their daughters and granddaughters. Besides being frightening, finding out about a genetic mutation could lead to job and insurance discrimination. New laws are currently addressing these privacy issues.

But the most important thing to keep in mind when considering genetic testing is that a negative result is no guarantee. One negative test result does not mean, definitely, that a woman doesn’t have a specific mutation which could put her at a higher risk of breast cancer. And if she doesn’t have that mutation, she could still develop breast cancer. Cancer affects many people who have no strong risk factors.

In general, no one should undergo genetic testing without talking to a trained, professional genetic counselor.


How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Getting started—visit your doctor.
If you think you have symptoms of breast cancer, see a doctor right away. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, your health history, and risk factors for breast conditions such as cancer.

To determine whether or not a person has breast cancer, a healthcare professional examines the breasts for lumps, looking for suspicious abnormalities in texture, size, and relationship to the skin and muscles of the chest. Changes in the nipples and skin are also noted. Additionally, the lymph nodes in the armpits and above the collarbone are examined, and an overall physical exam is probably given.

If there are any signs of cancer, the doctor will suggest more tests. Tests fall into three main groups: imaging tests, nipple discharge exams, and biopsies.

Imaging tests.

How can imaging tests evaluate breast cancer?
“Imaging” means making a picture of the inside of the body. This can be accomplished with X-rays (mammogram), magnetic fields (MRI), sound waves (ultrasound), or radioactive materials (PET scan). Imaging tests can help detect breast cancer and tell a doctor how far it has spread, and if any treatment given so far is working.

Diagnostic mammograms.
Mammograms are mostly used for screening, but they can also be used to examine breast problems found during screening. These problems may include a mass in the breast, nipple discharge, or other abnormalities. When a mammogram is used to find out more about a breast problem, it’s called a “diagnostic mammogram.”

Here is what a diagnostic mammogram can show:

That an abnormality in the breast is not a problem. Women who experience this result are often asked to have annual mammograms
That an abnormality is most likely benign. Women with benign abnormalities are often asked to come back for a mammogram in 4 to 6 months
That an abnormality is suspicious. In this case, a biopsy is needed
Digital mammograms and computer-aided breast cancer diagnosis.
Technology continues to help doctors diagnose cancer earlier and more accurately. A digital mammogram—also known as a full-field digital mammogram, or FFDM—is a mammogram that is recorded on a computer. Doctors can look at these mammograms on a computer screen to see certain areas more clearly.

What’s more, a technique called computer-aided detection and diagnosis (CAD) helps radiologists detect suspicious changes on standard and digital mammograms.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
An MRI is a scan using radio waves and strong magnets in place of X-rays. The body absorbs the energy from the radio waves, and this can reveal certain diseases when a computer translates the pattern of absorbed waves back into a detailed picture of the body’s tissues.

MRIs are common, but not all MRI machines are made to look specifically at the breast. MRIs can also be expensive. And MRIs can be somewhat uncomfortable: A liquid is often injected into a vein before an MRI to help raise the contrast of the image the scan produces and to give doctors a more detailed understanding of what’s going on in the body. Further, an MRI can take up to an hour—during which time the person being scanned needs to lie in a narrow tube without moving.

MRIs are important, however. They can help doctors determine the actual size of a tumor in someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. They can also sometimes detect other cancers in the breast.

Breast ultrasound.
Also called sonography, ultrasound is a method of imaging that uses sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body. Ultrasound is painless, and it doesn’t expose you to radiation. This, along with the fact that it is very common and less expensive than MRI, has made ultrasound a valuable tool to use with mammography.

But ultrasound isn’t recommended to replace mammography. Typically, ultrasound is used to get a better picture of a specific area seen on a mammogram. This can sometimes help doctors distinguish between a tumor and a cyst, or non-cancerous, fluid-filled sac that might form in the breast.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
This type of scan creates an image of chemical changes that take place in the breast tissue. First, a patient is injected with a small amount of radioactive material and sugar. Cancer cells absorb sugar faster than other cells, so this helps get the radioactive material into the cancer. The patient stays still as the scanner detects the radiation and forms an image.

PET scans are considered more accurate in detecting larger, more aggressive cancers than they are in locating tumors that are smaller than 8 millimeters across.

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Nipple discharge exams.

Sometimes, a person will be tested for breast cancer because she is having nipple discharge.
Using a microscope, a doctor can examine this fluid for cancerous cells. Fortunately, most nipple discharges are not cancerous. If the fluid appears milky or clear green, cancer is very unlikely. However, if the discharge is red or reddish-brown—possibly containing blood—it may be caused by cancer, although injury, infection, and benign tumor are all more likely causes.

Even if no cancer cells are found in someone’s nipple discharge, cancer may still be present, and a biopsy may be performed.

Specific nipple discharge tests.
Sometimes a test called a ductogram or galactogram is used to help determine the cause of nipple discharge. Another experimental test called a ductal lavage uses gentle suction to help give a more accurate picture of a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. And a simpler test called nipple aspiration looks for abnormal cells developing in the ducts, also without needles.

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A biopsy is the only way to really know if a cancer is present.
To confirm that a breast contains a tumor, a doctor will perform a biopsy, removing a sample of the suspicious tissue to be examined in detail by a specialist called a pathologist. The pathologist makes the diagnosis as to whether or not cancer is present. When a mammogram or other exam finds an abnormality in the breast, a biopsy is often performed.

Biopsies can be useful in determining if someone has a tumor in the breast, what type of cancer it is, and whether or not it is invasive (metastatic).

There are a variety of biopsy techniques available. Because each person facing a possible cancer diagnosis is in a different situation, the choice of which type of biopsy to use is up to you and your doctor. Discuss the pros and cons of each type of biopsy with your healthcare team. Here are some of the major types of biopsy:

Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA): FNA biopsies allow doctors to use very thin, hollow needles to withdraw small amounts of tissue from the breast. In fact, the FNA biopsy needle is thinner than the needle used for blood tests
Core needle biopsy (large needle biopsy): Using a larger needle than an FNA biopsy, the core needle biopsy is performed using a local anesthesia, meaning the person being biopsied is awake, but the breast is numbed. The core needle biopsy removes larger pieces of tissue than an FNA biopsy. This may often—though not always—provide a clearer diagnosis
Vacuum-assisted biopsies: Vacuum-assisted biopsies can be performed with a hollow probe. The probe can be guided using X-rays, an ultrasound, or an MRI. Tissue to be studied under a microscope is suctioned in through the probe. No stitches are needed, and there is little scarring
Surgical or open biopsy: When surgery is needed to remove a lump for examination, this is called a surgical biopsy
Lymph node dissection and sentinel lymph node biopsy: These techniques are used to search for cancer in the lymph nodes
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After a breast cancer diagnosis.

Regardless of your diagnosis, you may want a second opinion.
As you decide what treatment to pursue, you can consult with other healthcare professionals, learn more about the disease, and, of course, seek advice from friends and family.

You should be confident in your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Always feel free to get a second opinion about your condition, and what treatment plan is right for you.


Breast cancer staging

What is a “stage” of breast cancer?
When it concerns cancer, the word “stage” refers to the extent of the disease. Staging breast cancer involves both the size of the tumor and whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes. Staging is very important because it helps healthcare professionals determine the best treatment options to fight your cancer.

Stages of cancer start at 0 and go up to 4, but they are written in Roman numerals (I – IV). The number implies how much the cancer has spread. Generally, a lower number means the cancer has not spread, or has spread less. A higher number means the cancer has spread more.

The stages of breast cancer and what they mean
Stage 0
Stage 0 breast cancer.
The tumor has stayed in the part of the breast where it started. The two stage 0 breast cancers, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS, cancer in the cells that carry milk) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS, cancer in the cells of the glands that make milk), are different and are treated differently

Doctors usually don’t recommend any immediate treatment for women with LCIS. Close follow-up, however, is essential. Treatment of DCIS varies, but may include surgery and radiation

Stage 0 Stage I Stage II Stage III Stage IV
What system do doctors use when staging breast cancer?
The Staging System of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, also referred to as the TNM system, is most often used by doctors to describe a patient’s cancer. The TNM system involves three scores that describe:

The tumor type
Whether or not lymph nodes are involved
How far the cancer has spread
Tumor, Node, and Metastasis (TNM) staging
Primary tumor (T)
T0 There is no evidence of a tumor
Tis: The tumor is “in situ,” meaning it has not spread to nearby tissues
T1 The tumor cannot be seen without using imaging techniques
T2-4 The higher numbers indicate the size and extent of the primary tumor
Nodes (N)
N0 The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes
N1-4 The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The higher numbers indicate how many lymph nodes are affected and how far away the cancer has spread
Metastasis (M)
M0 No distant metastasis, meaning the cancer has not spread to other organs
M1 Distant metastasis, meaning the cancer has spread to other organs
People fighting breast cancer who are in otherwise good health can take part in clinical trials of other new potential treatments.



Breast cancer screening and early detection

Breast Cancer Screening
What is breast cancer screening, and why is it so important?
“Screening” means going through tests or exams to find a disease such as breast cancer—even though you may not have any symptoms. “Early detection” means being able to find breast cancer at an early stage. Using early screening exams for early breast cancer detection is important because these exams can find a tumor before it causes symptoms.

When breast cancers are found because of the symptoms they’re causing, they tend to be larger and are more likely to have spread beyond the breast. But cancers found early, during screening exams, are more likely to be smaller and located in the breast alone. The size of a tumor and how far it has spread are important factors in predicting the prognosis (medical outlook) of a woman with breast cancer.

Doctors feel that screening could potentially save thousands of lives every year, and that cancers found at earlier stages can often be treated more successfully. The American Cancer Society recommends the following program for early detection:

Women should have annual mammograms starting at the age of 40
Women should have annual clinical breast exams (CBEs) every 3 years in their 20s and 30s, and annually after the age of 40
There are some benefits to breast self-exams (BSEs), but also some limitations. Women with a higher risk of breast cancer are recommended to perform breast self-exams monthly, starting in their 20s
Talk to your doctor about the breast cancer screening plan that makes sense for you.



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