Breast cancer is a malignant tumor in the glandular tissues of the breast. Such tumors, also called carcinomas, form when the processes that control normal growth break down, enabling a single abnormal cell to multiply at a rapid rate. Carcinomas, which tend to destroy an increasing proportion of normal breast tissue over time, may spread to other parts of the body. Now that you know what breast cancer is, I will discuss a few risk factors, studies, symptoms and diagnosis, and treatments.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. A major health problem in many parts of the world, it is especially prevalent in developed countries. As a result of large-scale screening of women considered at higher risk, a greater number of breast cancers have been discovered and treated in recent years, even in cases where the women experienced no symptoms. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in the United States about 203,500 new cases are diagnosed and about 40,000 women die each year from cancer originating in the breast. One in eight American women who live to age 85 will develop this illness at some time during her life. This rate of incidence increases with age, and women 75 years and older are at highest risk. (Breast Cancer, 2003).
Age is a well-know risk factor for breast cancer with the greatest risk occurring after the age of 55 years. There are many other known endogenous and exogenous risk factors for female breast cancer.
The major breast cancer risk factors are "hormonal" and related to a woman's reproductive history. The greatest risk results following long periods of uninterrupted menstrual or ovulatory cycles. This is because breast tissue, in these situations, is consistently exposed to estrogen. Thus, the early onset of menarche and the late onset of menopause both will increase the number of menstrual cycles in a woman's lifetime and therefore, increase her risk.