WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Cancers are a group of diseases that cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a lump or mass called a tumor and are named after the part of the body where the tumor orignates. Therefore, breast cancer begins in the breast, which consists of glands for milk production called lobules, and the ducts that connect the lobules to the nipple. The remainder of the breast is made up of fatty, connective, and lymphatic tissue.
*Illustration from Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book
An estimated 212,920 new cases of invasive (cancer that has spread beyond the point of origination) breast cancer, as well as an additional 61,980 cases of in situ (cancer that has not yet spread) breast cancer were diagnosed in 2006.
An estimated 41,430 women died from breast cancer in 2006.
Incidence rates for breast cancer in the United States increased 4 percent each year during the 1980s, due to the greater use of mammography, which can detect tumors much earlier than manual exams. The number of new breast cancer cases leveled off in the 1990s.
Mortality rates declined by 2.3 percent annually between 1990 and 2000 thanks to early detection and better treatment.
The five-year survival rate for breast cancer diagnosed in early-localized stage is 98 percent.