Breast is the most common cause of cancer in women and the second
most common cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. While the
majority of new breast cancers are diagnosed as a result of an abnormality
seen on a mammogram, a lump or change in consistency of the breast
tissue can also be a warning sign of the disease. Heightened awareness
of breast cancer risk in the past decades has led to an increase
in the number of women undergoing mammography for screening, leading
to detection of cancers in earlier stages and a resultant improvement
in survival rates. Still, breast cancer is the most common cause
of death in women between the ages of 45 and 55. Although breast
cancer in women is a common form of cancer, /male breast cancer
does occur and accounts for about 1% of all cancer deaths in men.
Research has yielded much information about the causes of breast
cancers, and it is now believed that genetic and/or hormonal factors
are the primary risk factors for breast cancer. Staging systems
have been developed to allow doctors to characterize the extent
to which a particular cancer has spread and to make decisions concerning
treatment options. Breast cancer treatment depends upon many factors,
including thee type of cancer and the extent to which it has spread.
Treatment options for breast cancer may involve surgery (removal
of the cancer alone or, in some cases, mastectomy), radiation therapy,
hormonal therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
With advances in screening, diagnosis, and treatment, the death
rate for breast cancer has declined by about 20% over the past decade,
and research is ongoing to develop even more effective screening
and treatment programs.