Breast Cancer

March 2, 2020 at 9:54 am

Breast cancer generally describes abnormal tissue growth in the breast. It is most common in females but may also occur in males. It is more common with increasing age. Breast cancer most commonly involves the ducts, or the passageways from the milk glands to the nipple. There is some overlap between treatment of breast cancer and a pre-cancerous condition known as Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). In DCIS, cancerous cells are found within the duct but they have not invaded normal breast tissue beyond the duct.

In breast cancer, cancerous cells have invaded beyond the duct into normal breast tissue. Breast cancer and DCIS are often detected when a patient notices a lump or when an abnormal area is observed on a screening mammogram (essentially an x-ray of the breast). A biopsy (a method of getting a tissue sample) of the abnormal area or lump is often performed to obtain a definitive diagnosis.

Breast cancer often spreads through local lymphatics (passageways used by immune cells) to surrounding lymph nodes (small knots of immune tissue). From the lymph nodes, breast cancer occasionally “jumps” to distant organs, a process known as “metastasis.” Involvement of the lymph nodes is an important factor in determining the severity of the disease.

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