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Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Facts

Breast cancer is cancer arising in breast tissue. Cancers are diseases that start as abnormalities developed in cells, leading to abnormal growth patterns. Cancers can grow in place in their tissue of origin or spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

  • Although breast cancer is primarily a disease of women, about 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women with the exception of nonmelanoma skin cancers. It is the second leading cause of death by cancer in women, following only lung cancer.
  • In 2016, the American Cancer Society estimated that 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer would be diagnosed among women in the United States and that a further 61,000 new cases of in-situ (noninvasive) breast cancer would be diagnosed.
  • A woman has a lifetime risk of developing invasive breast cancer of about one in eight, or about 12% over the course of their entire lifetime. That risk is lower when they are younger and increases with age.
  • Death rates from breast cancer have been gradually declining and continue to decline. These decreases are likely due both to increased breast cancer awareness and screening and improved treatment methods.
  • There are currently about 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/17/2016

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Breast Cancer:

Breast Cancer - Treatment

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Breast Cancer: Surgery

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BRCA gene mutations increase breast cancer risk.

BRCA Genes and Your Breast Cancer Risk

BRCA, known as the "breast cancer gene," is one of several genetic mutations (alterations in the body's genetic material) that have been associated with the development of breast and ovarian cancer. Changes in two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (short for breast cancer 1 and breast cancer 2), can be inherited and lead to a markedly increased risk for developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Only about 5% of women with breast cancer are found to carry a mutated BRCA gene. Studies have confirmed that women who carry these BRCA mutations have a high risk for development of breast cancer, up to seven times that of women who do not have BRCA gene alterations.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Breast Cancer »

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer in women.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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