What is breast cancer?
is a malignant tumour
that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumour is a group of cancer cells that can grow into surrounding tissues or spread (metastasise) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it too.
Breast Cancer Facts
- There are many type of breast cancer that differs in their capability of spreading to other body tissues.
-  The causes of breast cancer are not yet fully known although a number of risk factors have been identified.
- There are several different types of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is diagnosed with physician and self-examination of the breasts, mammography, ultrasound testing and biopsy.
- Treatment of breast cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage (the extent of spread in the body).
Risk factors associated with breast cancer
There are many factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Although we know some of these risk factors, we do not know how these factors cause the development of a cancer.
Factors that are unchangeable
- Gender: Breast cancer is about 100 times more common among women than men. This is likely because men have less of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which can promote breast cancer cell growth.
- Ageing: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older.
- Genetic risk factors: About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, resulting directly from gene defects (called mutations) inherited from a parent.
- Family history of breast cancer: Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close relatives have this disease. Having one first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk. Having 2 first-degree relatives increases her risk threefold. The exact risk is not known, but woman with a family of breast cancer in father or brother may also have ab increased risk of breast cancer.
- Personal history of breast cancer: A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3-4 fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in the another part of the same breast. This is different from a recurrence of the first cancer.
- Race and Ethnicity: Overall, white woman are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. However, in women under 45 years of age, breast cancer is more common in African-American women.
- Dense breast tissue: Women with denser breast tissue have more glandular tissue and less fatty tissue, and have a higher risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also make it harder for doctors to spot problems on mammograms.
- Menstrual Periods: Women who have had more menstrual cycles because they started menstruating at an early age (before age 12) or went through menopause at a later age (after age 55) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. The increase in risk may be due to a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
- Breast Implants: Several studies have found that breast implants do not increase breast cancer risk, although silicone breast implants can cause scar tissue to form in the breast. Implants make it harder to see breast tissue on standard mammograms, but additional x-ray pictures called implant displacement views can be used to examine the breast tissue more completely.
- Being overweight or obese: Being overweight or obese has been found to increase breast cancer risk, especially for women after menopause. Before menopause your ovaries produce most of your oestrogen, and fast tissue produces a small amount of oestrogen.