Breast Cancer

Facts About Breast Cancer

  • The American Cancer Society estimates that about 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States this year, and that another 2.350 cases will be diagnosed in men. Meanwhile, approximately 60,920 women will be found to have carcinoma in situ (CIS), the earliest, non-invasive form of breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, other than skin cancers. Roughly 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
  • When caught early, breast cancer often is cured by timely application of appropriate treatment, which may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these approaches.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, exceeded only by lung cancer. However, death rates from breast cancer have been declining for more than 25 years, and today there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

Treating Breast Cancer

Surgery is necessary for all patients with breast cancer, and will involve one of two main approaches:

  • Removal of the breast. This is called a mastectomy.
  • Removing just the tumor. This is called breast conservation therapy. It is also called a lumpectomy (as only the cancerous lump is removed) or partial mastectomy.

Surgery is also necessary to assess for possible spread of the cancer to nearby lymph nodes. This is called an axially dissection or sentinel lymph node biopsy.

Additional treatments beyond surgery often are necessary. The need for and type of additional therapy depend on several factors, including your age, menopausal status, other medical conditions, tumor type, tumor size and number, tumor grade, the scope of the surgery, surgical margins (i.e., how close was the cancer to the edge of the tissue removed by surgery), lymph node involvement, hormone receptors, and the results of other tests.

Additional therapy options include:

  • Chemotherapy with anti-cancer drugs or hormone-blocking drugs. A medical oncologist, a physician skilled in the use of prescribing powerful medications for treating cancer, will help you make this assessment.
  • Radiation therapy often has an important role to play after surgery, as well. A radiation oncologist, a physician specially trained to use radiation treatments, will help you decide if you need radiation therapy.

For More Information

Visit the National Cancer Institute