Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Understanding Breast Cancer

Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade  healthy cells in the body.  Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.

What Causes Cancer To Develop?

Cancer begins in the cells which are the basic building blocks that make up tissue. Tissue is found in the breast and other parts of the body.  Sometimes, the process of cell growth goes wrong and new cells form when the body doesn’t need them and old or damaged cells do not die as they should.  When this occurs, a build up of cells often forms a mass of tissue called a lump, growth, or tumor.

Breast cancer occurs when malignant tumors develop in the breast.  These cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor and entering blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into tissues throughout the body. When cancer cells travel to other parts of the body and begin damaging other tissues and organs, the process is called metastasis. 

Facts About Breast Cancer In The United States

· .  One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

·       Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

·       Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.

·       Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.

·       Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year.

·       On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.

·       Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today. 

Male Breast Cancer

All people, whether male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Even so, male breast cancer is very rare. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.  

Male breast cancer can exhibit the same symptoms as breast cancer in women, including a lump. Anyone who notices anything unusual about their breasts, whether male or female, should contact their physician immediately. Survival rates and treatment for men with breast cancer are very similar to those for women. Early detection of breast cancer increases treatment options and often reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.

 Causes Of Breast Cancer: How Did This Happen?

When you’re told that you have breast cancer, it’s natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. But no one knows the exact causes of breast cancer. Doctors seldom know why one woman develops breast cancer and another doesn’t, and most women who have breast cancer will never be able to pinpoint an exact cause. What we do know is that breast cancer is always caused by damage to a cell's DNA.

Known Risk Factors

Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors (such as drinking alcohol) can be avoided. But most risk factors (such as having a family history of breast cancer) can’t be avoided. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get breast cancer. Many women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please visit us at our Rexburg location.