What is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer



Breast or breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, in both developed and developing countries. The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the developing world, due to longer life expectancy, increased urbanization and the adoption of Western ways of life.
Although they reduce risk to a certain extent, prevention strategies can not eliminate the majority of cases of breast cancer that occur in low and middle income countries, where the diagnosis of the problem is made in very advanced stages. Therefore, early detection with a view to improving the prognosis and survival of these cases remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

The early detection strategies recommended for low and middle income countries are: knowledge of the first signs and symptoms, and screening based on the clinical exploration of the breasts in demonstration areas. Screening by mammography is very expensive and is recommended for countries that have a good sanitary infrastructure and can afford a long-term program.
Many low- and middle-income countries facing the double burden of cervical cancer and breast cancer must undertake cost-effective and affordable interventions to address these highly preventable diseases.


  • One of eight women in the world will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her life.
  • More than half of breast cancer cases are detected by the woman herself or by her doctor.
  • Early detection saves lives – the sooner cancer is discovered and treated, the greater the chances of eliminating it.
  • Nine out of ten changes in the breast are not due to cancer; Even so, you have to see a doctor.
  • This disease occurs almost completely in women, but men can also suffer.

What is breast cancer and how does it develop?


Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that originates in breast cells. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) the surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer develops in the ducts or lobes of the breast. The lobes is where breast milk is produced and the ducts are where it moves to the nipple. Cancer develops when the cells of the lobes or ducts are abnormal in size and shape and begin to multiply in an uncontrolled manner.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?


Although we still do not know exactly what causes breast cancer, we do know that there are certain risk factors associated with the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases the chances of a person suffering from a disease, such as cancer. Different types of cancer have different risk factors. Some risk factors, such as smoking,
consume alcohol and food, are associated with things a person does. Others, such as the person’s age, race or family history, can not be changed. However, the risk factors do not indicate everything. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that a woman will have breast cancer. Some women who have one or more risk factors never have the disease, and most women who have it do not have any risk factor (other than being a woman and being older). Some factors weigh more heavily on risk than others, and your risk of breast cancer may change over time, due to aging or lifestyle. Although many risk factors may increase the chances of getting breast cancer, it is still not clear how some of these risk factors cause the cells to turn into cancer. Hormones seem to play a role, in many cases of breast cancer, although it is not completely known how this happens.

Risk factors that you can not change


  • Incidence according to sex: breast cancer is approximately 100 times more frequent in women than in men.
  • Age: the chances of getting breast cancer increase as the woman’s age increases.
  • Family history: the risk of breast cancer is higher among women whose direct relatives (consanguineous) have this disease. Even so, most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease. Therefore, not having a family member with breast cancer does not mean that you will not suffer from this disease.
  • Personal history of breast cancer: A woman with cancer in one breast is more likely to have a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a return of the first cancer (known as recurrence).
  • Dense breast tissue: Dense breast tissue means there is more glandular tissue and less adipose tissue. Women with denser breast tissue have a higher risk of breast cancer. Dense breast tissue can also make it difficult for doctors to detect problems with mammograms.
  • Certain benign (non-cancer) problems in the breast: Women with certain benign breast changes may be at an increased risk of breast cancer. Some of these changes are more linked to the risk of breast cancer than others. For more information, see our document Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ: In this condition, cells that look like cancer cells are found in the milk-producing glands (lobules), but these do not grow through the wall of the lobules, and can not spread to other parts of the body. body. This is not a true cancer or a precancer, but lobular carcinoma in situ (lobular carcinoma in situ, LCIS) increases a woman’s risk of cancer in either breast later on.
  • Menses: Women who started menstruating at an early age (before age 12), or who experienced menopause after 55 years of age, have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Radiation to the breast at an early age: women who received radiation treatment in the chest area, as part of their treatment for some other cancer during their childhood or as young adults, have a significantly higher risk of breast cancer . The risk of radiation to the chest region is greatest if the radiation was administered during adolescence, when the breasts were still developing.
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