Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow uncontrolled. When a cell grows out of control it forms a tumor. A tumor can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not considered cancerous but need to be taken care of, Malignant tumors are cancerous can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.
Most tumors in the breast grow slowly; however, some tumors are more aggressive and grow more rapidly. Breast cancer usually begins in the ducts or cells of the lobules, and in some cases in the stromal tissues.
Everyone can take steps to help the body stay as healthy as possible and lower risk of breast cancer, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and exercising regularly.
Family, friends and others can help support and can be helpful in many ways as someone goes through diagnosis, treatment and recovery of breast cancer. Family and friends can provide physical and emotional support you may need.
There are also many support lines that you can call for help.
- About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
- In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
- About 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2011. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
- For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
- Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Just under 30% of cancers in women are breast cancers.
- In 2011, there were more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the US.
- About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
- The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).