Cancer starts from abnormal cells growing out of control and invading other tissues. Research shows that the chance that a woman will have invasive breast cancer is less than 1 in 8 and the chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36.
Although skin cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, breast cancer follows closely and the biggest risk factor is - being a woman.
According to The American Cancer Society's most recent report about breast cancer in the United States for 2012:
• There will be over 225,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women
• Over 60,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be found
• Almost 40,510 women will die from breast cancer
(CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
There are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Although breast cancer rates are decreasing, which the ACR claims is due to preventive measures and improved treatment, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer in pleural fluid
Some of the risk factors you cannot change:
• Gender: It is about 100 times more common in women than in men.
• Age: About 2 of 3 women are 55 or older when the invasive cancer is found.
• Family history: Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives from the mother’s or father’s side have this disease. Having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer about doubles the risk. However, over 85% of women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease.
• Race: Overall, older white women are slightly more likely to get breast cancer than African-American women.
• Dense breast tissue: When there is more gland tissue present and less fatty tissue there is a higher risk of breast cancer.
• Menstrual periods: Those who started menstruating before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55, have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, possibly due to a longer lifetime exposure to estrogen and progesterone.
Some signs and symptoms of breast cancer:
Dense mass in left breast raises concern.
• A new lump or mass
• A hard, uneven, painless lump
• Swelling of all or part of the breast
• Skin irritation or dimpling
• Breast pain
• Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
• Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
• A nipple discharge other than breast milk
An ongoing, 10-year breast cancer study known as the Sister Study is following 50,000 women whose sisters have had breast cancer in order to gather more information on factors causing breast cancer.
For more detailed information about breast cancer and other types of cancer visit the website of the American Cancer Society.