Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths within the United States, affecting one of every 8 women.
The Center of Disease Control estimate that over 192,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and unfortunately, over 40,000 women will lose their lives annually to this disease.
There are two types of breast cancer, Ductal Carcinoma - the most common form and Lobular Carcinoma - occurring in the milk producing glands. Ductal carcinoma can be non-invasive and invasive with the potential to spread (DCIS). The chance for successful treatment of DCIS is usually high. Lobular Carcinoma can also be invasive or non-invasive and occurs in one of every ten breast cancer cases.
Less Common Forms of Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer that affects the dermal lymphatic system. Rather than forming a lump, IBC tumors grow in flat sheets that cannot be felt in a breast exam. Triple-negative breast cancer is usually an invasive ductal carcinoma with cells that lack estrogen and progesterone receptors and do not have an excess of HER2 protein on their surfaces. These types of breast cancers tend to spread more quickly and do not respond to hormone therapy or drugs that target HER2. Recurrent breast cancer is cancer that has returned after being undetected for a time. It can occur in the remaining breast tissue or at other sites such as the lungs, liver, bones or brain. Even though these tumors are in new locations, they still are called breast cancer.
As women, we know our bodies better than anyone else. Be aware of how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your physician immediately. Exams can vary for women depending on their age. In your 20s, women should be conducting BSEs or Breast Self Exams. Women between the ages of 30-40 need to be involved in Clinical Breast Exams with their physicians. Annual mammogram detection begins at the age of 40 and in some occasions earlier, depending on your family’s health history. Signs or symptoms can include: swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, redness or thickening of the nipple or skin, and/or discharge other than breast milk.