What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is cancer that forms in cells of the breast. The breast consists of lobules (glands that make breast milk), ducts (small tubes that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple), fatty and connective tissue, blood vessels and lymph vessels.
The milk-producing ducts and glands are the two most likely areas to develop cancerous cells. In rarer cases, breast cancer begins in fatty tissues, also known as stromal tissues. Breast cancer may also occur in surrounding lymph nodes, especially those of the underarm.
Breast cancer incidence
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one in eight women who live to be age 80 will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This makes the disease the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, after skin cancer. NCI estimates that 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2009.
One in four cancers diagnosed in the United States is breast cancer, yet women are not the only ones receiving the diagnosis. Although the incidence of breast cancer is much less common among men, approximately 1,700 American men learn they have breast cancer each year.
Breast cancer is one of the most highly publicized cancers in the media today. Local and national breast cancer awareness events are reminders of its prevalence. Many of us know someone who previously had or is currently battling breast cancer. Fortunately, advancements in breast cancer research provide new treatment options and technologies for those battling the disease.