Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Overview

The first sign of breast cancer often is a breast lump or an abnormal mammogram. Breast cancer stages range from early, curable breast cancer to metastatic breast cancer, with a variety of breast cancer treatments. Male breast cancer is not uncommon and must be taken seriously.

Overview & Facts

Read a detailed description of breast cancer.

Breast cancer stages run from 0 to 4, noting the size and spread of the tumors. Get definitions of all stages of breast cancer.

Learn about the healthy, normal breast and breast anatomy in this brief article.

Causes

It’s often hard to say exactly what causes a given person’s cancer. But some factors are associated with breast cancer. Read about them here.

Are You at Risk?

Nearly one in eight U.S. women develops breast cancer some time in her life. Doctors don’t always know why breast cancer starts, but some risk factors stand out. Read an overview.

Learn about the genetic risk factors for breast cancer.

Checking for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations may help screen for breast cancer. But the results don’t mean breast cancer is certain or impossible. Get the facts.

Breast cancer affects all women. But it may differ by racial and ethnic group. For instance, breast cancer is found more often in white women but kills more black women. Read more.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been linked to a higher breast cancer risk. Get the facts on hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer.

Read about the debate on what role, if any, birth control pills may play in breast cancer risk.

Drinking alcohol regularly may raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Read what researchers say about the topic.

Prevention

Doctors can’t make any promises, but some habits — like exercise and a healthy diet — may cut your risk of breast cancer. Read more about breast cancer prevention.

The drug tamoxifen may be used to help prevent breast cancer in women at high risk of breast cancer. This article and drawing explains tamoxifen’s use for breast cancer prevention.

Read why the osteoporosis drug Evista may help cut breast cancer risk in high-risk postmenopausal women.

Preventive mastectomy is the surgical removal of the breasts to avoid breast cancer in high-risk women.

Is your breast cancer information based on facts or fear? Nix worry by learning about breast cancer causes, risk factors, symptoms, and prevention.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Symptoms & Types

Breast lumps aren’t the only possible sign of breast cancer, and most breast lumps aren’t cancer. Read about the signs, symptoms, and types of breast cancer.

Symptoms

This article is a brief overview of breast cancer symptoms.

Warning Signs

Read about the possible warning signs of breast cancer. But don’t jump to conclusions; breast cancer diagnosis must be done by doctors.

Types

Invasive breast cancers have spread beyond the milk ducts and milk-making glands to other breast tissue. This link will take you to a web site that explains invasive breast cancer.

Read about Paget’s disease of the nipple, a rare form of breast cancer.

Breast cancer recurrence (return) is possible after treatment, and it doesn’t always come back to the breast. This detailed article is all about breast cancer recurrence.

Diagnosis & Tests

Early detection can be a big plus in treating breast cancer. Learn about breast cancer tests and diagnosis. Due for a mammogram? Please make your appointment now.

Diagnosis

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better it may be for the patient’s long-term health. Get a brief overview of the tests that can help detect breast cancer.

For women at normal risk of breast cancer, self-exams, clinical exams, and mammography starting at 40 may screen for breast cancer. Abnormal results or high-risk women may need earlier screening or additional tests. Read more.

Tests

Do you do regular breast self-exams? While some cancers are too tiny to feel, and most lumps aren’t cancer, self-exams are a proactive way to help take care of yourself. Learn how.

A clinical breast exam is a breast exam performed by a health care professional. It’s a basic part of women’s check-ups, starting at age 20. Find out what to expect from a clinical breast exam.

A mammogram is a special type of X-ray taken to look for abnormal growths or changes in breast tissue. It’s a key tool in breast cancer detection, though no test is perfect.

Most abnormal mammogram results aren’t breast cancer. But more testing is needed to make sure. The bottom line: Don’t panic, but do get the follow-up tests.

Do you find mammograms uncomfortable? Don’t skip the test; just learn how to handle it better. This video explains how to deal with mammogram discomfort.

Doctors sometimes use ultrasound images to check whether a breast lump is a cyst (a fluid-filled sac that is not cancer) or a solid mass. Read more here.

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. Learn how breast MRI is used to help detect breast cancer.

When doctors perform a biopsy, they remove cells from a suspicious mass to see if it’s cancer. This article provides an overview of breast biopsies.

This type of breast biopsy generally uses a needle, not surgery. Learn what’s involved in minimally invasive breast biopsy.

In a sentinal node biopsy, doctors check a few lymph nodes under the arm to see if cancer has spread into the lymph system. Learn what’s involved in a sentinel node biopsy.

Ductal lavage checks cells from the milk ducts for precancerous cells.

Treatment & Care

There are more than 2 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., and modern medicine is a big reason for that success. Learn about breast cancer treatment and care.

Treatment

Breast cancer treatments have come a long way in the past few generations. Get a general overview of treatment options for today’s breast cancer patients.

Patients’ preferences are part of the decision-making process in choosing breast cancer treatments. This article describes the options.

Explore and evaluate treatment options for your particular stage and type of breast cancer.

Surgery is done to remove cancer while it’s still in the breast. This article is a brief introduction to breast cancer surgery.

Chemotherapy is often used to cut the chances of cancer’s return (recurrence).

Living & Managing
Coping with breast cancer can be draining and stressful. Get facts and tips on managing and living with breast cancer during treatment and beyond.

Living and Coping
Managing Cancer Fatigue
Fatigue is common with cancer and cancer treatment. Learn how to handle cancer fatigue.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery
After mastectomy, doctors can sculpt a new breast. The choice to get breast reconstruction surgery is the patient’s personal choice. Read about the decision in these articles.

Nutrition and Exercise During Breast Cancer Treatment
What should you eat during breast cancer treatment? Can you work out if you feel like it? Read about it and check with your doctors because every person is different.

Eating Right During Cancer Treatment
Cancer may cut your appetite. But good nutrition is always important. Learn more about healthy eating during cancer treatment. This article isn’t specific to breast cancer.

Making Sense of New Breast Cancer Research
If you’ve got breast cancer now or have had it in the past, you may wonder how new breast cancer findings affect you. Learn four key questions to ask about new breast cancer research.
Marriage, Dating, and Breast Cancer
This article covers questions about relationships and breast cancer. This article is mainly about heterosexual women.

Friend or Relative with Breast Cancer?
Do you have a friend or relative with breast cancer? Here are tips for supporting her.

Guy’s Guide to Breast Cancer
This article is for men who are supporting a friend, daughter, girlfriend, or spouse with breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Clothing: Bras, Scarves, Accessories, and More
WebMD helps women with breast cancer find the right clothes to wear while dealing with its side effects. Find advice on bras, head scarves, comfortable tops, and even breast cancer awareness bracelets and ribbons.

Living After Breast Cancer Treatment Ends
Done with breast cancer treatment? You may be ready to create a “new normal” for life. Read about that here.

Coping with the Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Done with breast cancer treatment? You may be ready to create a “new normal” for life.

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