Breast Cancer Basics
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that begins in the cells of the breast and can invade surrounding tissues or spread to other areas of the body.
Some Sobering Facts:
In 2020 alone, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive. About 42,170 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2020 from breast cancer. As of January 2020, there are more than 3.5 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, making it one of the leading health issues for females in the United States. 30% of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer, one diagnosis every 2 minutes of every day.
Not Just A Female Problem
A man’s risk of breast cancer is only about 1%, resulting in approximately 2,620 cases expected to be diagnosed in men. Both men and women are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells, and tissue can still develop cancer. Breast cancer in men is typically detected as a hard lump below the nipple and areola.
Awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because of poor awareness. The majority of men diagnosed are over the age of 50. Nearly all breast cancer in men is estrogen receptor positive. Treatment includes hormonal therapy, just as it does for 70% of women. A man diagnosed with breast cancer should also consider consulting a genetics counselor. If a man tests positive for a defective gene such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, there is a chance for a future diagnosis of breast cancer. Additionally, his children have a 50% chance of carrying the gene
Breast cancer basics from the ACS:
- Majority of breast cancers are carcinomas, a type of cancer that starts in the cells that line organs and tissues
- Breast cancers are often an adenocarcinoma which is a type of carcinoma that starts in glandular tissue
- sarcomas and other types of cancers can occur in the breast too. Sarcomas generally starts in the cells of muscle, fat, or connective tissue
- There is currently no known cure for breast cancer, and its early diagnosis is critical to survival.
- 64% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), for which the 5-year survival rate is 99%.
Early Detection is Key
According to the National Cancer Institute, receiving a high-quality mammogram and having a clinical breast exam on a regular basis are the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early. Women age 40 and older should receive annual mammogram screenings. Age, health, the presence of hormone receptors on the cancer cells and the treatment received all play into a person overcoming breast cancer.