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About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is classified based on where in the breast the disease started and how the disease grows.
 
  • Non-invasive or in situ breast cancer: Also known as “Stage 0” breast cancer, the abnormal cells stay within the breast duct, lobule or nipple and do not invade surrounding tissues. However, in situ breast cancers can become invasive in the future.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma: This is the most common type of breast cancer, beginning in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple).
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: This cancer originates in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. It is found in both breasts more often than other types of breast cancer.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: In this uncommon type of cancer, the breast becomes red, swollen and tender with an orange peel-like skin texture.
  • Recurrent breast cancer: This is cancer that returns after it has been treated. It may come back in the breast or in other parts of the body.
  • Metastatic breast cancer: This is a breast cancer that has spread to sites and organs outside the breast and regional lymph nodes.
 
Breast cancers are also classified by the receptors on their cell surface, such as estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. The presence or absence of these receptors can guide treatment planning by indicating whether the cancer is sensitive or resistant to hormone and drug therapies.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
 
  • A lump or mass in the breast, particularly those that are painless and firm with irregular edges
  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the breast area

If your or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, please contact a physician for further evaluation.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors associated with breast cancer include the following:
 
  • Age: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older, and half of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women older than 60.
  • Reproductive and menstrual history: Women who have never had a full-term pregnancy or who had their first after age 30 are at higher risk. Women who started menstruating before age 12 or who went through menopause after 55 are also at increased risk.
  • Breast density: Women with denser breasts are more likely to develop breast cancer.
  • Obesity: Being obese (having a body mass index of 30 or higher) increases your risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use — two or more drinks daily — is associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Physical Activity: Women who are sedentary or physically inactive have an elevated breast cancer risk.
  • Family history: Having a close blood relative such as a mother or sister who has had breast or ovarian cancer can increase your risk.
  • Personal history: Women who have had breast cancer have a slightly greater chance of developing another breast cancer.
  • Inherited factors: In some families, genetic mutations — such as those in the BRCA genes — may make some women more susceptible to developing breast cancer.
  • Radiation therapy: Women, who have had radiation to the chest area, particularly before age 30, may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Hormone therapy: Menopause hormone therapy combining estrogen and progesterone for more than five years is associated with an increased risk.
 
Note that many women may have one or more of these risk factors and never get breast cancer. Likewise, women (and men) may develop breast cancer without having any risk factors. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of breast cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are looking for a  second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.

Sources: American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute

About Breast Cancer

About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is classified based on where in the breast the disease started and how the disease grows.
 
  • Non-invasive or in situ breast cancer: Also known as “Stage 0” breast cancer, the abnormal cells stay within the breast duct, lobule or nipple and do not invade surrounding tissues. However, in situ breast cancers can become invasive in the future.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma: This is the most common type of breast cancer, beginning in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple).
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma: This cancer originates in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. It is found in both breasts more often than other types of breast cancer.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: In this uncommon type of cancer, the breast becomes red, swollen and tender with an orange peel-like skin texture.
  • Recurrent breast cancer: This is cancer that returns after it has been treated. It may come back in the breast or in other parts of the body.
  • Metastatic breast cancer: This is a breast cancer that has spread to sites and organs outside the breast and regional lymph nodes.
 
Breast cancers are also classified by the receptors on their cell surface, such as estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. The presence or absence of these receptors can guide treatment planning by indicating whether the cancer is sensitive or resistant to hormone and drug therapies.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
 
  • A lump or mass in the breast, particularly those that are painless and firm with irregular edges
  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the breast area

If your or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, please contact a physician for further evaluation.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors associated with breast cancer include the following:
 
  • Age: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older, and half of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women older than 60.
  • Reproductive and menstrual history: Women who have never had a full-term pregnancy or who had their first after age 30 are at higher risk. Women who started menstruating before age 12 or who went through menopause after 55 are also at increased risk.
  • Breast density: Women with denser breasts are more likely to develop breast cancer.
  • Obesity: Being obese (having a body mass index of 30 or higher) increases your risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use — two or more drinks daily — is associated with a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Physical Activity: Women who are sedentary or physically inactive have an elevated breast cancer risk.
  • Family history: Having a close blood relative such as a mother or sister who has had breast or ovarian cancer can increase your risk.
  • Personal history: Women who have had breast cancer have a slightly greater chance of developing another breast cancer.
  • Inherited factors: In some families, genetic mutations — such as those in the BRCA genes — may make some women more susceptible to developing breast cancer.
  • Radiation therapy: Women, who have had radiation to the chest area, particularly before age 30, may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Hormone therapy: Menopause hormone therapy combining estrogen and progesterone for more than five years is associated with an increased risk.
 
Note that many women may have one or more of these risk factors and never get breast cancer. Likewise, women (and men) may develop breast cancer without having any risk factors. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an elevated risk of breast cancer, please consult with a doctor on preventive and early detection measures that are available.

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are looking for a  second opinion consultation about your treatment, find out more about  becoming a patient or contact us at 800-826-HOPE.

Sources: American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute
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Low-dose Tamoxifen for Radiation-Induced Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Trial
 
A clinical research study is currently underway to see if low-dose tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer in childhood, adolescent, and young adulthood cancer survivors.
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Cooper Finkel Women’s Health Center
Many gynecological cancer and breast cancer  services at City of Hope are provided at the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women's Health Center. Here, women receive the highest quality care, whether seeking prevention and screening services or coping with a cancer diagnosis.
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