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An Introduction to Breast Cancer

Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer, except
for skin cancer Each year, more than 200,000 American women learn they have the
disease and over 40,000 women die from it

Breast cancer is second only to lung canceras a cause of cancer death in women It occurs
in men also, but the number of cases is smaller 800Male Breast Cancer

at Is Cancer?
Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases
It occurs when, for unknown reasons, cells become abnormal and divide without control or
order All parts of the body are made up of cells that normally divide to produce more cells,
but only when the body needs them With cancer, cells keep dividing, even when new cells
are not needed
The change from normal to cancerous cells requires several separate, different gene
alterations Eventually, altered genes and uncontrolled growth may produce a tumor that
can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) Malignant tumors can invade,
damage, and destroy nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body A benign tumor
won't spread to other parts of the body, but local tissue may be damaged and the growth
may need to be removed
Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or the
lymphatic system This is how the condition spreads within the body When breast cancer
spreads outside the breast, cancer cells often are found in the lymph nodes under the arm
They can also spread to other lymph nodes, the bones, liver, or lungs Although it is not
common, some people whose underarm lymph nodes are clear of breast cancer may still
have cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body

Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body is the same disease and has the same name
as the original cancer For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is called
metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer
Understanding te Breasts
The breasts sit on the chest muscles that cover the ribs The breast is made up of lobes and
ducts Each breast has 15 to 20 sections, called lobes, which have many smaller sections
called lobules Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk The lobes, lobules,
and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts Milk flows from the lobules through these
ducts to the nipple The nipple is in the center of a dark area of skin called the areola Fat
fills the spaces between the lobules and ducts

Each breast also contains blood vessels and lymph vessels The lymph vessels carry an
almost colorless fluid called lymph These vessels lead to organs called lymph nodes In
breast cancer, the cancer cells can spread outside the breast into the lymph nodes under
the arm In many cases, if the cancer has reached the lymph nodes, cancer cells may have
also spread to other parts of the body via the lymphatic system or through the bloodstream

%5es of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can be invasive (moves into the surrounding tissue) or non-invasive (stays in
the ducts or lobes) Invasive breast cancers make up 70 to 80 percent of all cases The
most common type of invasive breast cancer is infiltrating ductal carcinoma (also called
invasive ductal carcinoma) This type is found in approximately 60 percent of cases

Other 95es of breas9 cancer include:

OInfiltrating lobular carcinoma (also called invasive lobular carcinoma)
OIntraductal carcinoma, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
OLobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
O!age9s disease of 9e ni55le
Onflamma9or breas9 cancer

Causes of Breast Cancer
Most breas9 cancer causes are unknown In 5 to 10 percent of these cases, there is a
hereditary component

#isk Factors for Breast Cancer
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor Breast
cancer risk factors include:

OOlder age
OEarly menarche (menstruation)
OOlder age at first birth or never having given birth
OA personal history of breast cancer or benign (noncancerous) breast disease
OA mother or sister with breast cancer
OTreatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest
OBreast tissue that is dense on a mammogram
Oormone use (such as estrogen and progesterone)
OExcessive drinking of alcoholic beverages
OBeing Caucasian


$25to2s of Breast Cancer
Not everyone with breast cancer will have early symptoms of the disease That is why
screening is so important It can help doctors find and treat cancer early Also, treatment is
more likely to work well when the disease is found early


Diagnosing Breast Cancer
If a woman has possible sm59oms of breas9 cancer, her healthcare provider will ask a
number of questions and perform a physical exam looking for signs of the disease e or
she may also recommend certain tests or procedures, including:

OMammogram
OUltrasound
OMRI
OBiopsy
OFine-needle aspiration
$tages of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a complex disease All cases are not the same Once the disease has been
found, more tests will be done to find out the specific pattern This important step is called
staging Knowing the exact stage will help your healthcare provider plan your treatment

Your healthcare provider will want to know:

OThe size of the tumor and exactly where it is in your breast
OIf the cancer has spread within your breast
OIf cancer is present in your lymph nodes under your arm
OIf cancer is present in other parts of your body

Specific breas9 cancer s9ages include:

OStage 0 (including lobular carcinoma in situ and ductal carcinoma in situ)
OStage I
OStage II (including IIA and IIB)
OStage III (including IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC)
OStage IV
ORecurrent

%reating Breast Cancer
Women with breast cancer have many treatment options available to them These options
include:

OSurgery (800Breast Cancer Surgery
ORadiation therapy (800Breast Cancer Radiation
OChemotherapy (800Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Oormone therapy (800Breast Cancer Hormone Treatment
OBiological therapy (800Biological Therapy for Breast Cancer

Many women receive more than one type of treatment, and the choice of treatment
depends mainly on the disease's stage 800Breast Cancer Treatment by Stage

Some of these treatments are considered primary, where the purpose is to remove the
tumor Others are considered adjuvant therapy, which is treatment given to kill any tumor
cells that may have spread and to increase the chances for a cure (800djuvant Therapy
for Breast Cancer)

Your healthcare provider can describe your treatment choices and the expected results
Then, the two of you can work together to develop a treatment plan that reflects your
medical needs and personal values
at Is te Prognosis for Breast Cancer?
Most women who are treated for early breast cancer go on to live healthy, active lives You
may have more choices when it comes to treatment if the disease is found early
Breast Cancer Prognosis: An Overview
People who are facing breast cancer are naturally concerned about what their future holds
Understanding breast cancer and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones plan
breast cancer treatment, think about lifestyle changes, and make decisions about their
quality of life and finances Many people with breast cancer want to know their prognosis, so
they may ask their doctor or search for breast cancer statistics on their own

What Is a Prognosis?
A prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of a disease In other
words, the prognosis is the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return
of the cancer)
Factors that can affect a person's prognosis include:
The type and location of the cancer
The stage of the disease (the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread)
Its grade (how abnormal the cancer cells look and how quickly the cancer is likely to grow
and spread)
The person's age, general health, and response to treatment

When doctors discuss a person's prognosis, they carefully consider all of the factors that
could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might
happen The doctor will base the breast cancer prognosis on information researchers have
collected over many years about hundreds or even thousands of people with cancer When
possible, the doctor will use statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most
similar to that of an individual patient's The doctor may speak of a favorable prognosis if
the cancer is likely to respond well to treatment The prognosis for breast cancer may be
unfavorable if the cancer is likely to be difficult to control owever, it is important to keep
in mind that a prognosis is only a prediction; the doctor cannot be absolutely certain about
the outcome for a particular patient

reas9 cancer 9rea9men9s have changed over time Today, many women who are
diagnosed with it do not have to lose a breast Because there are improved ways to treat
the disease, it is more important than ever for you to learn all you can Working with your
team of medical specialists, you can play a key role in choosing the treatment that is best
for you


#isk Factors for #ecurrence of Breast Cancer
Your chance of surviving breast cancer will depend on your chance of the disease returning
after treatment is completed Some women are at a higher risk for the spread or return of
breast cancer In many cases, doctors can't explain why one person stays well and another
does not

Remember, the risk factors for recurrence are complex They are not absolute predictions of
your future health Some factors that affect the spread or recurrence of the disease are:

O%umor size: The smaller your tumor, the lower the risk
Om5 nodes: The fewer underarm lymph nodes that have cancer, the lower your
risk
Oell grow9: Cancer cells that grow slowly are linked to a lower risk
Oormones: If a tumor depends on hormones for growth, hormonal therapy can
lower the risk of the cancer spreading or recurring

Preventing Breast Cancer
Early detection and effective treatment methods are expected to reduce the number of
women who die from breast cancer Researchers are continuing to develop new methods for
preventing this disease

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