Introduction

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor (a collection of cancer cells) arising from the cells of the breast. Although breast cancer predominantly occurs in women it can also affect men.

What are the risk factors
Some of the breast cancer risk factors can be modified (such as alcohol use) while others cannot be influenced (such as age). It is important to discuss these risks with your health care professional any time new therapies are started (for example, postmenopausal hormone therapy). The following are risk factors for breast cancer:
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Age: The chances of breast cancer increase as you get older. Family history: The risk of breast cancer is higher among women who have relatives with the disease. Having a close relative with the disease (sister, mother, or daughter) doubles a woman's risk. Personal history: Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast increases the risk of cancer in the other breast or the chance of an additional cancer in the original breast. Women diagnosed with certain benign breast conditions have an increased risk of breast cancer. These include atypical hyperplasia, a condition in which there is abnormal proliferation of breast cells but no cancer has developed. Menstruation: Women who started their menstrual cycle at a younger age (before 12) or went through menopause later (after 55) have a slightly increased risk. Breast tissue: Women with dense breast tissue (as documented bymammogram) have a higher risk of breast cancer. Race: White women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, but African-American women tend to have more aggressive tumors when they do develop breast cancer. Exposure to previous chest radiation or use of diethylstilbestrol increases the risk of breast cancer. Having no children or the first child after age 30 increases the risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding for 1 ½ to 2 years might slightly lower the risk of breast cancer. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. Use of oral contraceptives in the last 10 years increases the risk of breast cancer. Using combined hormone therapy after menopause increases the risk of breast cancer.

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therefore. the use of screening mammography has made it possible to detect many of the cancers early before they cause any symptoms. Alcohol use increases the risk of breast cancer. and this seems to be proportional to the amount of alcohol used. As in any test. The results of your mammogram. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health care professional. mammograms have limitations and will miss some cancers. the technique should be reviewed with her health care professional. CBE are an important tool to detect changes in your breasts and also trigger a discussion with your health care professional about early cancer detection and risk factors. The American Cancer Society has the following recommendations for breast cancer screenings: Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so as long as they are in good health. Women should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of regular health exams by a health care professional about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 years of age and over.  How is breast cancer diagnosed? Although breast cancer can be diagnosed by the above signs and symptoms. Mammograms are a very good screening tool for breast cancer. The goal is to feel comfortable with the way the woman's breasts feel and look and. breast exam. Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. If a woman wishes to do BSE. and family history should be discussed with your health care professional. detect changes. . Women at moderate risk (15% to 20%) should talk to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Exercise seems to lower the risk of breast cancer.

.2 millimeter but not larger than 2 millimeters – in the lymph nodes.Stages of breast cancer Stage Definition Stage 0 Cancer cells remain inside the breast duct. without invasion into normal adjacent breast tissue.2 millimeter but not larger than 2 millimeters – are found in the lymph nodes OR there is a tumor in the breast that is no larger than 2 centimeters. small groups of cancer cells -. instead. and there are small groups of cancer cells – larger than 0. Stage IIA No tumor can be found in the breast. Stage IA The tumor measures up to 2 cm AND the cancer has not spread outside the breast.larger than 0. no lymph nodes are involved Stage IB There is no tumor in the breast. Stage IIB The tumor is larger than 2 but no larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes OR the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes. but cancer cells are found in the axillary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under the arm) OR the tumor measures 2 centimeters or smaller and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes OR the tumor is larger than 2 but no larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

which are sticking together or to other structures.Stage IIIA No tumor is found in the breast. . Stage IV The cancer has spread — or metastasized — to other parts of the body. Stage IIIC There may either be no sign of cancer in the breast or a tumor may be any size and may have spread to the chest wall and/or the skin of the breast AND the cancer has spread to lymph nodes either above or below the collarbone AND the cancer may have spread to axillary lymph nodes or to lymph nodes near the breastbone. or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone. Inflammatory breast cancer is considered at least stage IIIB. Cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes. or cancer may be found in lymph nodes near the breastbone OR the tumor is any size. Cancer is found in axillary lymph nodes that are sticking together or to other structures. Stage IIIB The tumor may be any size and has spread to the chest wall and/or skin of the breast AND may have spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures. or cancer may be found in lymph nodes near the breastbone.

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