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What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the US. Every year, in the US itself, approximately 220,000 women are told they have breast cancer. After hearing this unexpected and unusual, a woman faced with having to make treatment choices within a very short time. While curable if detected early, breast cancer is the leading cause of death of women ages 35-54.

There are several types of breast cancer. The most common one is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the lining of the milk ducts in the breast. Another type, lobular carcinoma, begins in the lobules where milk is produced. If a cancerous tumor attacking nearby tissues, it is called invasive cancer.

Cancer cells can spread outside the breast to the lymph nodes, or bone, liver or lungs. When breast cancer spreads, it is called metastatic breast cancer even if found in other parts of the body. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is called metastatic breast cancer, not liver cancer.

Every woman has some likelihood of developing breast cancer during her life. As women get older, which increases the chance. Overall, the chance of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is 1 of 8. Although breast cancer is more common in older women, it also occurs in young women and even in a small number of men (1,300 cases per year in the U.S.).

While some factors such as hereditary are can't be prevented, early detection is vital to surviving from this disease. There are three things that women can do. Get an annual mammogram (special X-ray screening) after age 50, routine breast examination by a physician, and breast self examination (BSE) at least once a month.

If breast cancer is detected, it is important to remember there is no single treatment is "right" for all women. As with most medical conditions, there is no "one size fits all" treatment or cure. And all breast cancers are not equal. Breast cancer is a complex disease. After breast cancer has been found, more tests will be conducted to look for certain patterns of your particular cancer. This is an important step is called staging.

Knowing the stage of your disease will definitely help your doctor plan your course of treatment. Your doctor will want to know: the size of the tumor, if the cancer has spread within your breast, if cancer is present in your armpit lymph nodes, if the cancer is in other parts of your body.