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Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Causes, Types, Diagnosis, and Prognosis

Each year, an estimated 207,090 women and 1,970 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

What is Breast Cancer?

There are many types of breast cancer. Most breast cancers originate within two types of cells in the breast:

Other types of breast cancer include:

  • Breast cancer associated with pregnancy
  • Breast cancer in men
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget's disease of the nipple

Stages of Breast Cancer

Staging is the process of examining a cancer and determining how far the abnormal cells have spread. Staging is very important in determining the most effective treatment for breast cancer.

Early Stage Breast Cancer

In early stage breast cancers, the cancer is confined to the breast or lymph nodes near the breast.

Some forms of early stage cancer include:

Treatments for early stage breast cancers may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, or a combination of treatments.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer starts in the breast and spreads to another part of the body.

Metastasis is often referred to as a secondary cancer. The secondary cancer is the same type of cancer as the primary cancer.

For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bone, the cancer cells in the bone are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.

The most common places breast cancer cells spread include the:

  • Bone
  • Brain
  • Liver
  • Lymph nodes
  • Lungs

There are three ways cancer can spread in the body:

Risk Factors and Symptoms

It is important to know the risk factors and warning signs of breast cancer.

Risk factors may include:

Symptoms of breast cancer, particularly in the early stages, are often not acute or intense. But as the tumor grows, it may change how the breast looks and feels.

Symptoms and warning signs may include the following:

Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Tests and procedures to diagnose breast cancer include:

  • Biopsy, minimally invasive breast biopsy, or sentinel node biopsy
  • Computer aided detection (CAD)
  • Digital mammography
  • Ductoscopy
  • Estrogen and progesterone receptor tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Mammography
  • Ultrasound

More about Breast Cancer

Learn more about both female breast cancer and male breast cancer from the National Cancer Institute.