A more alarming statistic maybe that one out of 36 women will die of breast cancer. “You have cancer” can be a staggering statement to receive from your doctor, so it is important to have at least a common knowledge of the disease and its potential impacts, even if you are completely healthy.
Arming yourself with information on recent studies, survival stories and basic statistics can help you better understand breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society defines breast cancer as a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast and can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.
Most breast cancers begin in the cells lining the breast ducts, while others start in the cells that line the milk-producing glands or other tissues.
If cancer cells spread into lymph nodes — small collections of immune system cells — there is a higher chance that the cells could have also spread into other sites in the body, according to breastcancer.org.
Although sometimes completely normal and non-cancerous, breast lumps deserve evaluation by a medical professional to rule out the occurrence of cancer.
Experts advise women to be familiar with their normal breast consistency, because detecting a change early in the process can make a big difference in effectively treating the disease.
Other signs of breast cancer can include breast pain, thickening of the breast skin, nipple discharge or change in breast shape or size, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013:
— More than 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States.
— There will be more than 39,000 breast cancer deaths.