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Breast Cancer

Summary

Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are many risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include

  • Age - the risk rises as you get older
  • Genes - two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, greatly increase the risk. Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested for the genes.
  • Personal factors - beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55

Other risks include obesity, using hormone replacement therapy (also called menopausal hormone therapy), taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35, and having dense breasts.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast, and discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exams and mammography can help find breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. One possible treatment is surgery. It could be a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Other treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

Men can have breast cancer, too, but it is rare.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Start Here

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  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Cancer Society)
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  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
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  • (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) - PDF
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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (Living Beyond Breast Cancer)

Prevention and Risk Factors

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  • Mammography: FreeFacebookCredits2012 Health Topic From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
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Treatments and Therapies

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  • (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) - PDF
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  • Mastectomy: FreeFacebookCredits2012 Health Topic From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) - PDF
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Living With

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  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Living Beyond Breast Cancer)
  • (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) - PDF
  • (American Cancer Society)

Related Issues

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  • (American Cancer Society)
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  • (Metastatic Breast Cancer Network)
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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

Specifics

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Living Beyond Breast Cancer) - PDF
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (American Cancer Society)

Genetics

  • (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) - PDF
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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Human Genome Research Institute)

Videos and Tutorials

Statistics and Research

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  • (American Cancer Society)

Clinical Trials

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

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Find an Expert

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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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Children

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Teenagers

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Men

Seniors

  • (Living Beyond Breast Cancer)

Patient Handouts

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