What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the breast. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Source: CDC).

Less frequently, breast cancer can occur in men.

Normally, cells in the breast that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die. These cells are replaced by healthy young cells. Breast cancer occurs when old or damaged cells divide and multiply uncontrollably. This results in the development of a malignant mass of tissue (tumor) in the breast.

If left untreated, breast cancer cells can continue to multiply and spread to other parts of the body—a process called metastasis. As breast cancer progresses, it interferes with vital processes and functions of the organs where it has spread, such as the liver, bones and lungs.

Prognosis of breast cancer varies depending on the type of breast cancer and the stage of advancement; your age, medical history, and coexisting conditions or diseases; and other factors. If diagnosed and treated in an early stage of development, breast cancer is curable in many cases.

Breast cancer can lead to life-threatening complications and be fatal, especially if it is undetected and untreated. Seeking regular medical care offers the best chances of discovering breast cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. If you have breast cancer, following your treatment plan may help reduce your risk of serious complications.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

The hallmark symptom of breast cancer is a breast lump, but many women do not detect a lump or experience symptoms in early stages of breast cancer.

A breast lump that is malignant is generally not painful, but pain can occur in some cases. There are a variety of causes of breast lumps, such as fibrocystic breasts or breast cysts. However, any breast lump should be quickly evaluat... Read more about breast cancersymptoms

CAUSES

What causes breast cancer?

The underlying cause of breast cancer is currently not known. However, it is believed that some cases of breast cancer are genetic and may be linked to certain defects of genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Normally, cells in the breast that are old or damaged will stop reproducing and die. These cells are replaced by healthy young cells. Read more about breast cancercauses

TREATMENTS

How is breast cancer treated?

Treatment of breast cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to best evaluate your risks of developing breast cancer, perform breast exams, recommend screening mammography, and promptly order diagnostic testing for such symptoms as a breast lump or changes in the breast. These measures greatly increase your chan... Read more about breast cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

More Information on Cancer

This Article is Filed Under: Cancer, Breast Cancer