Breast Cancer 101: From Incidence to Treatment

  • Prevalence


    Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, and is second only to lung cancer for cancer-related deaths in American women.<sup>1</sup> It is estimated that 232,340 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and that 39,620 women will die of breast cancer in 2013.<sup>2</sup>

  • Classification


    Most invasive breast cancers present as adenocarcinomas and are classified based on microscopic appearance. The most common histologic types of invasive breast cancer are ductal and lobular carcinomas, accounting for approximately 75% and 15% of all cases in the US, respectively.<sup>3</sup>

  • Risk Factors

    Risk Factors

    The risk and incidence of breast cancer increases with advancing age in women. Other risks include hormonal, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.<sup>1</sup>

  • Early Presentation

    Early Presentation

    Most patients will discover a painless, palpable lump sometimes accompanied by a palpable local regional lymph node.<sup>1</sup>

  • Late Presentation

    Late Presentation

    Signs of metastasis are dependent on the site but may include bone pain, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, jaundice, or mental status changes.<sup>1</sup>

  • Diagnosis


    Initial diagnostics for women with symptoms of breast cancer include physical examination of the breast, breast biopsies, 3D mammography, ultrasonography, and MRI techniques.<sup>1</sup>

  • Staging


    Prognosis is dependent on involvement of lymph nodes, size of tumor, histologic subtype, nuclear or histologic grade, lymphatic and vascular invasion, and proliferation.<sup>6</sup>

  • Local Therapy

    Local Therapy

    Local therapy of early-stage breast cancer consists of modified radical mastectomy or lumpectomy plus external beam radiation therapy.<sup>1</sup>

  • Adjuvant Treatment

    Adjuvant Treatment

    Two of three breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive for estrogen or progesterone. Hormone therapy may prevent estrogen from acting on breast cancer cells or aid in lowering estrogen levels.<sup>8</sup>

  • Neoadjuvant Treatment

    Neoadjuvant Treatment

    Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is appropriate for patients with locally advanced breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, and selected patients with early breast cancer followed by local therapy and further adjuvant systemic therapy.<sup>1</sup>

  • Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment

    Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment

    Approximately 60% of women with metastatic breast cancer will respond to chemotherapy regimens; anthracycline- and taxane-containing regimens are the most active.<sup>1</sup>

  • Supportive and Palliative Care

    Supportive and Palliative Care

    Treatment focus for metastatic breast cancer is palliative care to optimize quality of life. Administration of hormonal therapy or chemotherapy is continued until signs of disease progression or new symptoms present.

  • Alternative Medicine

    Alternative Medicine

    Evidence from various <i>in vitro</i> and <i>in vivo</i> studies and randomized clinical trials support the use of herbal medicine or acupuncture in dealing with side effects from chemo- and radiotherapy such as fatigue and pain.<sup>10</sup>

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Breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed types of cancer in the United States. In 2013, an estimated 232,000 American women will be diagnosed with the disease. Ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma are the most common types, occurring in 7 in 10 and 1 in 10 women with breast cancer, respectively.2

Treatment for breast cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these agents. Selection of treatment is based mainly upon cancer stage, presence of hormone receptors, quantity of HER2, and the patient's health status.2

This slideshow provides an overview of key breast cancer facts as well as more detailed information about treatment, diagnosis, staging, and palliative care.

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