A Breast Cancer Survivor Demonstrates How to Do a Self Exam (2:25)
Cancer of any sort is terrifying, but breast cancer strikes particular fear in women of all ages across the country. While much of that fear is warranted, some is also likely from fear of the unknown. To help, we’ve put together some information to aid you in understanding the disease and navigating your own risks.
What is breast cancer?
Cancer is a disease where the usual checks and balances that keep the cells in your body growing normally are damaged, rewired or destroyed. The result is uncontrolled growth of a cell that can then invade and destroy surrounding tissues and, eventually, parts of the body both close to and remote from the original location. While the end is the same, the process can be different as can the type of cell involved. Breast cancer encompasses diseases of the many types of tissues that make up the breast, with each type and cause of uncontrolled growth having its own prognosis and mode of treatment.
How common is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Almost one in eight women will develop cancer that invades surrounding tissues and requires treatment over the course of their life. While that number sounds frightening, the good news is that most women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive. While diagnoses have remained steady over the last decade, death rates from cancer have fallen and survival at five years has increased. With that said, about 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.