What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

What to know about Breast Cancer

This National Cancer Institute (NCI) booklet (NIH Publication No. 05-1556) has important information about breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in this country (other than skin cancer). Each year, more than 211,000 American women learn they have this disease.

You will read about possible causes, screening, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. You will also find ideas about how to cope with the disease.

Breast Cancer in Men

Each year, about 1,700 men in this country learn they have breast cancer. Most information in this booklet applies to men with breast cancer.

Scientists are studying breast cancer to find out more about its causes. And they are looking for better ways to prevent, find, and treat it.

The Breasts

The breasts sit on the chest muscles that cover the ribs. Each breast is made of 15 to 20 lobes. Lobes contain many smaller lobules. Lobules contain groups of tiny glands that can produce milk. Milk flows from the lobules through thin tubes called ducts to the nipple. The nipple is in the center of a dark area of skin called the areola. Fat fills the spaces between the lobules and ducts.

The breasts also contain lymph vessels. These vessels lead to small, round organs called lymph nodes. Groups of lymph nodes are near the breast in the axilla (underarm), above the collarbone, in the chest behind the breastbone, and in many other parts of the body. The lymph nodes trap bacteria, cancer cells, or other harmful substances.

Understanding Cancer

Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body.

Normally, cells grow and divide to form new

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