Breast cancer occurs when there is a malignant tumor inside the breast. Each year more than 1185,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and the incidence of this disease is rising in developed countries. There are approximately 43,500 deaths from breast cancer annually, making this disease second to lung cancer as the leading cause of death by cancer among women. Ninety percent of breast cancers are detected by women themselves, often through breast self-examination (BSE). Breast cancer is life threatening and if the tumor is not found and treated early, cancer can spread to lymph nodes in the armpit and spread throughout the body.
The human breast is a gland made up of milk ducts, lobes, fatty tissue and lymphatic vessels. Cancerous tumors can arise in any part of the breast. Not all breast lumps are cancerous, but the only way to tell is by professional examination. Only lung cancer kills more women under the age 54 than breast cancer, but breast cancer is detected early, the five-year-plus survival rate is about 95%. Breast cancer most commonly strikes women. There is known cause of breast cancer, but many experts believe the female hormone estrogen plays a part. Some risk factors that have been identified for breast cancer include a family history of the disease, beginning the menstrual cycle before the age of 9, onset of menopause after age 55, having a first child after the age of 40 and having no children.
Early breast cancer is usually caught through a mammogram before any symptoms are present.
Some symptoms of breast cancer include a new or unusual lump or thickening in the breast or armpit; a change in size or shape of the breast; discharge or bleeding from the nipple with no squeezing of the nipple; a change in the nipple (inverting, scaling or crusting): darkening of the nipple or other areas of the breast; and a breast lump in a man.
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