Breast cancer is a cancer of breast tissue. Worldwide, it is the most common form of cancer in females, affecting, at some time in their lives, approximately one out of nine to thirteen women who reach age ninety in the Western world. It is the second most fatal cancer in women (after lung cancer), and the number of cases has significantly increased since the 1970s, a phenomenon partly blamed on modern lifestyles in the Western world.
- 1 Anatomy of the Breasts
- 2 History of breast cancer
- 3 Types of breast cancer
- 4 Epidemiologic risk factors and etiology
- 5 Symptoms
- 6 Screening
- 7 Diagnosis
- 8 Treatment
- 9 Prognosis
- 10 Prevention
- 11 Breast cancer in males
- 12 Breast cancer awareness
- 13 See also
- 14 External links
Anatomy of the Breasts
The breasts sit on the chest muscles that cover the ribs. Each breast is made of 15 to 20 lobes. Lobes contain many smaller lobules. Lobules contain groups of tiny glands that can produce milk. Milk flows from the lobules through thin tubes called 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.
The breasts also contain lymph vessels. These vessels lead to small, round organs called lymph nodes. Groups of lymph nodes are near the breast in the axilla (underarm), above the collarbone, in the chest behind the breastbone, and in many other parts of the body. The lymph nodes trap bacteria, cancer cells, or other harmful substances.
History of breast cancer
Breast cancer is one of the oldest known forms of cancer tumors. The oldest description of cancer (although the term cancer was not used) was discovered in Egypt and dates back to approximately 1600 BCE. The Edwin Smith Papyrus describes 8 cases of tumors or ulcers of the breast that were treated by cauterization, with a tool called "the fire drill." The writing says about the disease, "There is no treatment." At least one of the described cases is male. For centuries, physicians described similar cases in their practises, with the same sad conclusion. It wasn't until doctors achieved greater understanding of the circulatory system in the 17th century that they could establish a link between breast cancer and the lymph nodes in the armpit. The French surgeon Jean Louis Petit (1674-1750) and later the Scottish surgeon Benjamin Bell (1749-1806) were the first to remove the lymph nodes, breast tissue, and underlying chest muscle. Their successful work was carried on by William Stewart Halsted who started performing mastectomies in 1882. He became known for his Halsted radical mastectomy, a surgical procedure that remained popular up to the 1970s.
Types of breast cancer
- DCIS: Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
- LCIS: Lobular Carcinoma in Situ
- Invasive ductal carcinoma
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Paget's disease
Epidemiologic risk factors and etiology
It is important to have a model of causation of a disease in order to distinguish epidemiological risk factors or associations with disease, from the biological etiology and primary cause, secondary co-factors, and simple promoters of the disease. The first work on breast cancer epidemiology was done by Janet Lane-Claypon, who published a comparative study in 1926 of 500 breast cancer cases and 500 control patients of the same background and lifestyle for the British Ministry of Health.
Today, breast cancer, like other forms of cancer, is considered to be a result of damage to DNA. How this mechanism may occur comes from several known or hypothesized factors (such as exposure to ionizing radiation). Some factors lead to an increased rate of mutation (exposure to estrogens) and decreased repair (the BRCA1, BRCA2 and p53 genes). Although many epidemiological risk factors, and biological co-factors and promoters have been identified, the majority of breast cancer incidence remains unattributable, and the primary cause is unknown.
Dietary influences have been proposed and examined, but these are small effects, and do not distinguish differences in risk within populations, as well as they do between populations.
A significant environmental effect was revealed by the large difference in breast cancer incidence between countries and continents, and a migration effect which slowly increases the risk of breast cancer even across generations after migration from a country of lower incidence to a country of higher incidence, such as moving from China or Japan to the United States.
Humans are not the only mammal prone to breast cancer. Some strains of mice, namely the house mouse (Mus domesticus) are prone to breast cancer which is caused by infection with the mouse mammary tumour virus (MMTV or "Bittner virus" for its discoverer Hans Bittner), by random insertional mutagenesis. Suspicion of MMTV or other viruses in human breast cancer is controversial, and the idea is not generally accepted for lack of direct and definitive evidence. There is much more research in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer than in its cause.
contradictory The risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. For someone who lives to the age of 90, the chances of getting breast cancer is about 14.3% or one in seven during their lifetime.
The probability of breast cancer rises with age but breast cancer tends to be more aggressive when it occurs in younger people. One type of breast cancer that is especially aggressive and disproportionately occurs in younger people is inflammatory breast cancer. It is initially staged as Stage IIIb or Stage IV. It also is unique because it often does not present with a lump so that it often is not detected by mammography or ultrasound. It presents with the signs and symptoms of a breast infection like mastitis.
Two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been linked to the rare familial form of breast cancer Template:Cite needed. People in families expressing mutations in these genes have a much higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not. Not all people who inherit mutations in these genes will develop breast cancer. Together with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (p53 mutations), these genetic aberrations determine around 5% of all breast cancer cases,Template:Cite needed suggesting that the remainder is sporadic. Recently it was found that newly discovered gene called BARD1 if exists in combination with BRCA2 gene may increase the risk of breast cancer to as much as 80 percent.
Alcohol generally appears to increase the risk of breast cancer in people. The UK's Review of Alcohol: Association with Breast Cancer concludes that "studies confirm previous observations that there appears to be an association between alcohol intake and increased risk of breast cancer in women. On balance, there was a weak association between the amount of alcohol consumed and the relative risk."
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) concludes that "Chronic alcohol consumption has been associated with a small (averaging 10 percent) increase in a woman's risk of breast cancer (Friedenreich et al.; Longnecker; Nasca). According to these studies, the risk appears to increase as the quantity and duration of alcohol consumption increases. Other studies, however, have found no evidence of such a link (Chu et al. ; Schatzkin et al.; Webser et al)."Ref.22.214.171.124
The Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products Non-Technical Summary concludes, "The new research estimates that a woman drinking an average of two units of alcohol per day has a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer 8% higher than a woman who drinks an average of one unit of alcohol per day. The risk of breast cancer further increases with each additional drink consumed per day. … The research also concludes that approximately 6% (between 3.2% and 8.8%) of breast cancers reported in the UK each year could be prevented if drinking was reduced to a very low level (i.e. less than 1 unit/week)."
It has been reported that "Two drinks daily increase the risk of getting breast cancer by about 25 percent." (NCI) but the evidence is inconsistent. The Framingham study has carefully tracked individuals since the 1940s. Data from that research found that drinking alcohol moderately did not increase breast cancer risk (Wellness Facts). Similarly, research by the Danish National Institute for Public Health found that moderate drinking had virtually no effect on breast cancer risk (Petri et al.).
Breast cancer constitutes about 7.3% of all cancers. One study suggests that women who frequently drink red wine may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.Ref.Maggiolini M. et al. (2005) J Mol Endocrinol. "The red wine phenolics piceatannol and myricetin act as agonists for estrogen receptor alpha in human breast cancer cells"
"Folate intake counteracts breast cancer risk associated with alcohol consumption"Ref.Mayo Clinic news release June 26 2001 "Folate Intake Counteracts Breast Cancer Risk Associated with Alcohol Consumption" and "women who drink alcohol and have a high folate intake are not at increased risk of cancer."Ref.Boston University "Folate, Alcohol, and Cancer Risk" Those who have a high (200 micrograms or more per day) level of folate (folic acid or Vitamin B9) in their diet are not at increased risk of breast cancer compared to those who abstain from alcohol.Ref."A prospective study of folate intake and the risk of breast cancer" Foods rich in folate include citrus fruits, citrus juices, dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach), dried beans, and peas. Vitamin B9 can also be taken in a multivitamin pill.
Gaining weight after the menopause can increase a woman's risk. Putting on 9.9kg (22lbs) increased the risk of developing breast cancer by 18%.Ref.BBC report Weight link to breast cancer risk
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have concluded a study that suggests that artificial light can be a cause of breast cancer.Ref.The Independent Avoid breast cancer. Sleep in the dark...
Persistently increased blood levels of estrogen are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, as are increased levels of the androgens androstenedione and testosterone (which can be directly converted by aromatase to the estrogens estrone and estradiol, respectively). Increased blood levels of progesterone are associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women.Ref. A number of circumstances which increase exposure to endogenous estrogens including not having children, delaying first childbirth, not breastfeeding, early menarche (the first menstrual period) and late menopause are suspected of increasing lifetime risk for developing breast cancer.Ref.American Cancer Society. (2006-10-03). What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer? Retrieved 2006-03-30.
Oral contraceptives may produce a slight increase in breast cancer risk among long-term users, but this appears to be a short-term effect. The largest meta-analysis (1996) of data from 54 studies identified a relative risk (RR) of 1.24 for current users; 10 or more years after stopping, no difference was seen. Further, the cancers diagnosed in women who had ever used hormonal contraceptives were less advanced than those in nonusers, raising the possibility that the small excess among users was due to increased detection. Breast cancer risk associated with hormonal contraceptive use did not appear to vary with family history of breast cancer.<ref name=hormone>National Cancer Institute (2006-08-03). "Hormone Therapy". Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
Data exist from both observational and randomized clinical trials regarding the association between postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. The largest meta-analysis (1997) of data from 51 observational studies, indicated a relative risk of breast cancer of 1.35 for women who had used HRT for 5 or more years after menopause. The estrogen-plus-progestin arm of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a randomized controlled trial, which randomized more than 16,000 postmenopausal women to receive combined hormone therapy or placebo, was halted early (2002) because health risks exceeded benefits. One of the adverse outcomes prompting closure was a significant increase in both total and invasive breast cancers (RR = 1.24) in women randomized to receive estrogen and progestin for an average of 5 years. HRT-related breast cancers had adverse prognostic characteristics (more advanced stages and larger tumors) compared with cancers occurring in the placebo group, and HRT was also associated with a substantial increase in abnormal mammograms. Short-term use of hormones for treatment of menopausal symptoms appears to confer little or no breast cancer risk.<ref name=hormone>National Cancer Institute (2006-08-03). "Hormone Therapy". Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
- It has been hypothesized that abortion may increase the risk of breast cancer because of hormones in early pregnancy. Recent large studies do not support this association.Ref.American Cancer Society. (2006-10-03). What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer? Retrieved 2006-03-30.
- Although not well quantified there has long been a concern about risk associated with environmental estrogenic compounds, such as dioxins, or phytoestrogens such as found in soy beans.Ref.Gikas PD, Mokbel K. (2005) Phytoestrogens and the risk of breast cancer: a review of the literature. Int J Fertil Women's Med.
- Aluminum salts such as those used in anti-perspirants have recently been classified as metalloestrogens. In research published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, Dr. Philippa D. Darbre of the University of Reading has shown that aluminum salts increase estrogen-related gene expression in human breast cancer cells grown in the laboratory.Ref.Harding, Anne. (2006) Aluminum Salts Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk. Reuters Health.See Breast Cancer Risk Factor
Early breast cancer causes no symptoms and is not painful. Usually breast cancer is discovered before any symptoms are present, either on mammography or by feeling a breast lump. A lump under the arm or above the collarbone that does not go away may be present. Other possible symptoms include breast discharge, nipple inversion and changes in the skin overlying the breast.
Due to the high incidence of breast cancer among older women, screening is now recommended in many countries. Screening methods suggested include breast self-examination and mammography. Mammography has been shown to reduce breast cancer-related mortality by 20-30%.Ref. Routine (annual) mammography of women older than 50 is encouraged as a screening method to diagnose early breast cancer and has demonstrated a protective effect in multiple clinical trials.Ref.
Mammography is still the modality of choice for screening of early breast cancer, and breast cancers detected by mammography are usually smaller than those detected clinically.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been shown to detect cancers that are not visible on mammograms, but it has several disadvantages. For example, although it is 27-36% more sensitive, it is less specific than mammography.Ref. As a result, MRI studies will have more false positives (up to 5%), which may have undesirable financial and psychological costs. It is also a relatively expensive procedure, and one which requires the intravenous injection of a chemical agent to be effective. Proposed Indications for using MRI for screening include:Ref.
- Strong family history of breast cancer
- Patients with BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 oncogene mutations
- Evaluation of women with breast implants
- History of previous lumpectomy or breast biopsy surgeries
- Axillary metastasis with an unknown primary tumor
- Very dense or scarred breast tissue
Ultrasound alone is not adequate as a screening tool but it is a useful additional for the characterization of palpable tumours and directing image-guided biopsies.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute recommends screening mammography with a baseline mammogram at age 35, mammograms every two years beginning at age 40, and then annual mammograms beginning at age 50. In the UK, women are invited to attend for screening once every three years beginning at age 50. Women with one or more first degree relatives (mother, sister, daughter) with premenopausal breast cancer should begin screening at an earlier age. It is usually suggested to start screening at an age that is 10 years less than the age at which the relative was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The diagnosis of breast cancer is established by the pathological examination of removed breast tissue. Such tissue is generally obtained at the time of surgical treatment. A number of procedures have been devised to obtain tissue or cells prior to the treatment for histological or cytological examination. Such procedures include fine-needle aspiration, nipples aspirates, ductal lavage, core needle biopsy, and local surgical biopsy. Most of these diagnostic steps, however, have some limitations as they may not yield enough tissue or miss the cancer, while the surgical biopsy already becomes an invasive procedure. Imaging tests are used to detect metastasis and include chest x-ray, bone scan, CT, MRI, and PET scanning. Ca 15.3 (carbohydrate antigen 15.3, epithelial mucin) is a tumor marker determined in blood which can be used to follow up disease activity.
Breast cancer is staged. Not only will this allow for better understanding of the disease process, but it will also facilitate interpretation of data, and determine treatment. Prognosis is closely linked to results of staging. The AJCC-TNM system is commonly used to stage breast cancer:Ref.American Cancer Society: Breast Cancer Staging Accessed 2006-07-19
Summary of stages:
- Stage 0 - Carcinoma in situ
- Stage I - Tumor (T) does not exceed 2 cm, no axillary lymph nodes (N) involved.
- Stage IIA – T 2-5 cm, N negative, or T <2 cm and N positive.
- Stage IIB – T > 5 cm, N negative, or T 2-5 cm and N positive (< 4 axillary nodes).
- Stage IIIA – T > 5 cm, N positive, or T 2-5 cm with 4 or more axillary nodes
- Stage IIIB – T has penetrated chest wall or skin, and may have spread to < 10 axillary N
- Stage IIIC – T has > 10 axillary N, 1 or more supraclavicular or infraclavicular N, or internal mammary N.
- Stage IV – Distant metastasis (M)
Breast lesions are examined for certain markers, notably sex steroid hormone receptors. About two thirds of postmenopausal breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive (ER+) and progesterone receptor positive (PR+).Ref.Rusiecki JA, Holford TR, Zahm SH, Zheng T. Breast cancer risk factors according to joint estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status. Cancer Detect Prev 2005;29:419-26 Receptor status modifies the treatment as, for instance, ER+ lesions are more sensitive to hormonal therapy.
The mainstay of breast cancer treatment is surgery when the tumor is localized, with possible adjuvant hormonal therapy (with tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor), chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy. At present, the treatment recommendations after surgery (adjuvant therapy) follow a pattern. This pattern may be adapted as every two years a worldwide conference takes place in St. Gallen, Switzerland to discuss the actual results of worldwide multi-center studies. Depending on clinical criteria (age, type of cancer, size, metastasis) patients are roughly divided to high risk and low risk cases which follow different rules for therapy. Treatment possibilities include Radiation Therapy, Chemotherapy, Hormone Therapy, and Immune Therapy.
An online resource for helping to quantify the relative risks and benefits of chemotherapy v. hormonal therapy is Adjuvant! Online (see below).
In planning treatment, doctors can also use a test called Oncotype DX that measures breast cancer recurrence risk.
The emotional impact of cancer diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, and related issues can be severe. Most larger hospitals are associated with cancer support groups which can help patients cope with the many issues that come up in a supportive environment with other people with experience with similar issues. Online cancer support groups are also very beneficial to cancer patients, especially in dealing with uncertainty and body-image problems inherent in cancer treatment.
Depending on the staging and type of the tumor, just a lumpectomy (removal of the lump only) may be all that is necessary or removal of larger amounts of breast tissue may be necessary. Surgical removal of the entire breast is called mastectomy.
Standard practice requires that the surgeon must establish that the tissue removed in the operation has margins clear of cancer, indicating that the cancer has been completely excised. If the tissue removed does not have clear margins, then further operations to remove more tissue may be necessary. This may sometimes require removal of part of the pectoralis major muscle which is the main muscle of the anterior chest wall.
During the operation, the lymph nodes in the axilla are also considered for removal. In the past, large axillary operations took out ten to forty nodes to establish whether cancer had spread - this had the unfortunate side effect of frequently causing lymphedema of the arm on the same side as the removal of this many lymph nodes affected lymphatic drainage. More recently the technique of sentinel lymph node dissection has become popular as it requires the removal of far fewer lymph nodes, resulting in fewer side effects.
Radiation therapy consists of the use of high powered X-rays or gamma rays (XRT) that precisely target the area that is being treated. These X-rays or gamma rays are very effective in destroying the cancer cells that might recur where the tumor was removed. These X-rays are delivered by a machine called a linear Accelerator or LINAC. Alternatively, the use of implanted radioactive catheters (brachitherapy), similar to those used in prostate cancer treatment, is being evaluated. The use of radiation therapy for breast cancer is usually given after surgery has been performed and is an essential component of breast conserving therapy. The purpose of radiation is to reduce the chance that the cancer will recur.
Radiation therapy works for breast cancer by eliminating the microscopic cancer cells that may remain near the area where the tumor was removed during surgery. Since by the nature of radiation and its effects on normal cells and cancer cells alike the dose that is given is to ensure that the cancer cells are eliminated. However, the dose cannot be given in one sitting. Radiation causes some damage to the normal tissue around where the tumor was but normal healthy tissue can repair itself. The treatments are given typically over a period of five to seven weeks, performed five days a week. Each treatment session takes about fifteen minutes per day. Breaking the treatments up over this extended period of time gives the healthy normal tissue a chance to repair itself. Cancer cells do not repair themselves as well as normal cells, which explains the efficacy of radiation therapy.
Although radiation therapy can reduce the chance that breast cancer will recur in the breast, it is much less effective in prolonging patient survival. The National Cancer Institute reviews this information.Ref.cancer.gov in a paragraph that begins:“Breast-conserving surgery alone without radiation therapy . . .” The NCI includes six studies; none of them found a survival benefit for radiation therapy. Abstracts from all six studies are available for review. Patients who are unable to have radiation therapy after lumpectomy should consult with a surgeon who understands this research and who believes that lumpectomy (or partial mastectomy) alone is a reasonable treatment option.
Indications for radiation
Indications for radiation treatment are constantly evolving. Patients treated in Europe have been more likely in the past to be recommended adjuvant radiation after breast cancer surgery. Radiation therapy is usually recommended for all patients who had (lumpectomy, quadrant-resection). Radiation therapy is usually not indicated in patients with advanced (stage IV disease) except for palliation of symptoms like bone pain.
In general recommendations would include:
- Adjuvant treatment of breast cancer when using lumpectomy techniques.
- Prior to mastectomy (neoadjuvant): clinical tumor >5cm, a tumor >2cm after treatment with chemotherapy, involvement of 4 or more axillary lymph nodes (LN) on ultrasound or from prior axillary sampling
- After mastectomy (adjuvant): Primary tumor >5cm and involvement of 4 or more lymph nodes
Other factors which may influence adding adjuvant
- Tumor close to or to the margins on pathology specimen
- Multiple areas of tumor (multicentric disease)
- Microscopic invasion of lymphatic or vascular tissues
- Microcopic invasion of the skin, nipple/areola, or underlying pectoralis major muscle
- Patients with <4 LN involved, but extension out of the substance of a LN
- Inadequate numbers of axillary LN sampled
Side effects of radiation therapy
The side effects of radiation have improved considerably over the past decades. Aside from general fatigue caused by the healthy tissue repairing itself there will probably be no side effects at all. Some patients do develop a suntan-like change in skin color in the exact area being treated. As with a suntan, this darkening of the skin will fade with time. Other side effects experienced with radiation are:
- reddening of the skin
- muscle stiffness
- mild swelling
- tenderness in the area
- long-term shrinking of the irradiated breast
Along with improved cosmetic outcome of treatment with radiation there are also other techniques for delivering radiation to the breast. One such new technology is using IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) which the radiation oncologist can change the shape and intensity of the radiation beam at different points across and inside the breast. This allows for an even more focused beam of radiation directed at the tumor cells and leaving most of the healthy tissue unaffected by the radiation
Another new procedure involves a type of brachytherapy where a radioactive source is temporarily placed inside the breast in direct contact with the tumor bed (area where tumor was removed). This technique is called a Mammosite and is currently undergoing clinic trials.
Systemic therapy uses medications to treat cancer cells throughout the body. Any combination of systemic treatments may be used to treat breast cancer. Systemic treatments include chemotherapy, immune therapy, and hormonal therapy.
Chemotherapy can be given both before and after surgery. Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy is used to shrink the size of a tumor prior to surgery. Adjuvant chemotherapy is given after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.
There are several different chemotherapy regimens that may be used. The determination of the appropriate regimen depends on many factors including the character of the tumor, lymph node status, and the age and health of the patient. Possible chemotherapy regimens include:
- CMF: cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil
- FAC: 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide
- AC: doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide
- AC with paclitaxel administered after the AC
- TAC: docetaxel , doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide
- FEC: 5-fluorouracil, epirubucin and cyclophosphamide for 6 cycles
- FEC for three cycles followed by docetaxel for three cycles
- Dose dense AC: doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel
- TC: Taxotere (docetaxel) and cyclophosphamide
Since chemotherapy affects the production of white blood cells, a growth factor e.g. pegfilgrastim is sometimes administered along with chemotherapy. This has been shown to reduce, though not completely prevent the rate of infection and low white cell count.
Chemotherapy has increasing side effects as the patient's age passes 65.
Patients with estrogen receptor positive tumors will typically receive a hormonal treatment after chemotherapy is completed. Typical hormonal treatments include:
- Tamoxifen is typically given to premenopausal women to block the estrogen receptor on cells to prevent the transport of estrogen into the cell
- Aromatase inhibitors are typically given to postmenopausal women to lower the amount of estrogen in their systems
- ovarian ablation or suppression is used in premenopausal women
In patients whose cancer expresses an over-abundance of the HER2 protein the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin ®) is used to block the HER2 protein in breast cancer cells slowing their growth. This drug was originally used only in the treatment of patients with metastatic disease, however in the summer of 2005 two large clinical trials published results suggesting that patients with early-stage disease also benefit significantly from Herceptin.
Preliminary research into flax seeds indicate that flax can significantly inhibit breast cancer growth and metastasis, and enhance the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen on estrogen-dependent tumors.Ref.Ref.Ref.Ref.
There are several prognostic factors associated with breast cancer. Stage is the single most important prognostic factor in breast cancer, as it will take into consideration local involvement, lymph node status and whether metastatic disease is present or not. The higher the stage at the time of diagnosis, the worse the prognosis of breast cancer is. Node negative breast cancer patients have a much better prognosis compared to node positive patients.
Presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors in the cancer cell is another important prognostic factor, and may guide treatment. Hormone receptor positive breast cancer is usually associated with much better prognosis compared to hormone negative breast cancer.
HER2/neu status has also been described as a prognostic factor. Patients whose cancer cells are positive for HER2/neu have more aggressive disease and may be treated with trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody that targets this protein.
Ashkenazi Jewish women and black women tend to have higher rates of fatalities.
Prevention of breast cancer in high-risk women is probably more important than treatment of breast cancer. Many sufferers who may have inherited genetic mutations in breast cancer related genes (called BRCA1 and BRCA2) might have very high risk of developing breast cancer. In these women and other women who have very strong family history of breast cancer, the chance of developing breast cancer may be decreased by hormonal treatment.Template:Fact Classic drug for breast cancer prevention is tamoxifen, which is currently used extensively in high risk women. A recent clinical trial has shown that Raloxifene, which is drug commonly used for prevention of osteoporosis is as good as tamoxifen in breast cancer prevention with much less side effects.Ref. Medicine world.org Raloxifene is not currently Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for breast cancer prevention.
Prophylactic oophorectomy (removal of ovaries), post-child-bearing, reduces the risk of developing breast cancer by 50%, as well as reducing the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 96%.Ref.Kauff, Satagopan, Robson, et. al.: "Risk-Reducing Salpingo-Oophorectomy in Women with a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 Mutation":; The New England Journal of Medicine: vol. 346, No. 21; May 23, 2002; pp. 1609-1615. The side effects of Oophorectomy may be alleviated by medicines other than hormonal replacement. Non-hormonal biphosphonates (such as Fosamax and Actonel) increase bone strength and are available as once-a-week pills. Low-dose Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (e.g. Paxil, Prozac) alleviate vasomotor menopausal symptoms, i.e. "hot flashes".Ref.  Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA
Breast cancer in males
For years the medical profession assumed that male breast cancer was significantly different from female breast cancer. Today they are grouped together and receive the same treatment regimens. Since the male breast tissue is confined to the area directly behind the nipple, treatment for males has always been a mastectomy. Since the psychological effects of this surgery are just as great for males as for females, experimental surgery has been started to introduce the lumpectomy for males.
The incidence of breast cancer in males is relatively low, possibly due to the different endocrine milieu or the small total amount of glandular tissue. Seminal research in recognizing the incidence of male breast cancer was performed by the U.S. military at Madigan Army Medical Center. Most swelling or development of the male breast is likely to be the more benign condition of gynecomastia.
Breast cancer awareness
In the month of October, breast cancer is recognized by survivors, family and friends of survivors and/or victims of the disease. A pink ribbon is worn to recognize the struggle that sufferers face when battling the cancer.
Pink for October is an initiative started by Matthew Oliphant, which asks that any sites willing to help make people aware of breast cancer, change their template or layout to include the color pink, so that when visitors view the site, they see that the majority of the site is pink. Then after reading a short amount of information about breast cancer, or being redirected to another site, they are aware of the disease itself.
Breast Cancer Prevention Promise - http://www.changethestatistic.com/
- List of notable breast cancer patients according to occupation.
- List of notable breast cancer patients according to survival status.
- List of breast carcinogenic substances : cadmium.
- Mammary tumor for breast cancer in other animals.
- Breast reconstruction.
- Alcohol and cancer.
- Mammogram Quality Standards Act.
- Breast Cancer Action
- International Agency for Research on Cancer home page
- Australia: Cancer Control Bulletin Alcohol and cancer risk (PDF format)
- Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
- Breast cancer incidence by country
- National Cancer Institute - Breast Cancer Home Page
- Mayo Clinic: How the grading system for cancerous tumors was developed.
- Cornell University Alcohol and the Risk of Breast Cancer
- Breast Cancer Treatment Information and Pictures
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