Home > Health A – Z > Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer (Breast Carcinoma)

Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Breast Cancer

Female Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.

The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can make milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts....Read more about Female Breast Cancer

Male Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.

Breast cancer may occur in men. Men at any age may develop breast cancer, but it is usually detected (found) in men between 60 and 70 years of age. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.

The following types of breast cancer are found in men:

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Suspected Cancer: Recognition and Referral

Cancer is an important condition, both in terms of the number of people affected and the impacts on those people and the people close to them. Around one third of a million new cancers are diagnosed annually in the UK, across over 200 different cancer types. Each of these cancer types has different presenting features, though there may be overlap. More than one third of the population will develop a cancer in their lifetime. Although there have been large advances in treatment and survival, with a half of cancer sufferers now living at least ten years after diagnosis, it remains the case that more than a quarter of all people alive now will die of cancer.

Venous Thromboembolism: Reducing the Risk of Venous Thromboembolism (Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism) in Patients Admitted to Hospital

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a term used to include the formation of a blood clot (a thrombus) in a vein which may dislodge from its site of origin to travel in the blood, a phenomenon called embolism. A thrombus most commonly occurs in the deep veins of the legs; this is called deep vein thrombosis. A dislodged thrombus that travels to the lungs is known as a pulmonary embolism.

Aromatase Inhibitors in Breast Cancer [Internet]

In advanced disease, aromatase inhibitors as first-line therapy have been shown to extend the time to disease progression (strong scientific evidence).

See all (1534)

Summaries for consumers

Mammography followed by ultrasonography compared to mammography alone for breast cancer screening in women at average risk of breast cancer

Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women. Evidence shows that mammography in healthy women 50 to 70 years of age can detect breast cancer early and reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. Mammography, however, is not a perfect tool to detect breast cancer and misses some tumours in some women, particularly in women who have dense breasts. In women with dense breasts, the normal breast tissue and the tumour are difficult to distinguish from each other on the mammogram. Because of this, some supporters feel that the addition of ultrasonography screening of these women in addition to the mammography screening will detect those tumours that are missed by mammography alone. Others feel that this will increase the rate of false positive tumours and increase the number of biopsies and unnecessary treatment.

Tamoxifen or letrozole versus standard methods for women with breast cancer who freeze egg cells or embryos

Breast cancer treatment can cause infertility. Freezing egg cells (oocytes) or embryos before treatment can increase the chances of future motherhood. Hormonal treatment is required before freezing of oocytes or embryos. In cases of hormone‐sensitive breast cancer, this hormonal treatment can theoretically be harmful. Therefore, these women may receive tamoxifen or letrozole in addition to standard hormonal treatment. Cochrane review authors examined the evidence about tamoxifen or letrozole versus standard methods for women with estrogen‐receptor positive breast cancer undergoing freezing of oocytes or embryos in assisted reproduction.

Specialist breast care nurses for supportive care of women with breast cancer

Breast cancer is a complex disease which has seen survival for women improve over the last 20 years. Many of these improvements are linked to treatment advances, improved screening and a multiprofessional approach to its management. Breast Care Nurses (BCNs) work within this multiprofessional environment providing a range of interventions including support, information, patient advocacy and general liaison among the various members of the healthcare team. The objective of this review was to assess the effectiveness of individual interventions carried out by BCNs on quality of life outcomes for women with a diagnosis of breast cancer. We reviewed five studies which met the criteria for this systematic review. These involved a range of interventions and outcome measurements, and included women of various ages and in various stages of breast cancer assessment and treatment. These studies also used many different methods of reporting statistical findings and for this reason, the results of the studies could not be combined. Despite limited evidence to support their BCN role, one study which looked at follow up by the BCN compared to a doctor concluded that there were no differences for either group in terms of satisfaction with care or the ability of the healthcare provider to identify anxiety and depression. Another study showed that specific BCN interventions can alleviate perceived distress for women undergoing radiotherapy treatment however this did not have any impact on coping skills, mood or overall quality of life.

See all (331)

Terms to know

Glandular organ located on the chest. The breast is made up of connective tissue, fat, and breast tissue.
Carcinoma is a cancer found in body tissues that cover or line surfaces of organs, glands, or body structures.
In medicine, a tube or vessel of the body through which fluids pass.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
A noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct.
A portion of an organ, such as the liver, lung, breast, thyroid, or brain.
A small lobe or a subdivision of a lobe.
Neoplasm (Tumor)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.
A group of cells that act together to carry out a specific function in the body. Examples include muscle tissue, nervous system tissue (including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves), and connective tissue (including ligaments, tendons, bones, and fat). Organs are made up of tissues.

More about Breast Cancer

Photo of an adult

Also called: Malignant tumour of the breast, Malignant tumor of the breast, Carcinoma of the breast, Mammary carcinoma

Other terms to know: See all 8
Breast, Carcinoma, Duct

Related articles:
Cancer: Anxiety and Distress

Keep up with systematic reviews on Breast Cancer:

Create RSS

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...