HERIBERTO SEDENO, M.D. LECTURE
ON BREAST CANCER
Every year, almost 200,000 women in America are diagnosed with
breast cancer, making it the most common cancer diagnosed in women
aside from skin cancer. Approximately one in every eight females will
develop breast cancer at some point in her life. Only lung cancer claims
more lives than breast cancer in women overall, but breast cancer
serves as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among some
populations, such as Hispanic women.
There are significant differences between breast cancers that occur
before and after menopause. Hereditary factors figure prominently in
premenopausal breast cancers, while most breast cancers that develop
after menopause have far less family history involvement.
Without an inherited predisposition, many women will look at their health
behaviors and lifestyle choices as suggestive of their risks.
Drinking alcohol, smoking, eating poorly or being obese, and a lack of
exercise may contribute to breast cancer occurrence. Some studies
have implicated alcohol consumption and obesity for increasing risk;
another found that regular exercise can lower the incidence of breast
Still, scientists have yet to explain how some women with virtually
identical risk factors can have such different outcomes, or why women
without any risk factors end up developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer mortality rates have declined in recent years thanks
primarily to increased awareness and early detection. Medicines
continue to improve and treatment options are expanding, but women
still need to be vigilant in order to increase their chances of success
should they develop breast cancer.
Types of Breast Cancer
There are a number of different cancers that can occur in the breast,
and treatment and prognosis vary according to the type. Generally,
breast cancers are grouped according to where they first develop.
These types of cancer first develop in the milk-producing ducts of the
breast. These types of breast cancer are considered the earliest forms
of breast cancer and the most common kinds, and they can be either
invasive (invasive ductal carcinoma) or noninvasive (ductal carcinoma
in situ, or DCIS). "Invasive" means that the cancer has spread from
the original site to nearby breast tissue and/or lymph nodes and other
parts of the body.
These cancers develop in the cells lining the lobules that produce milk,
are the second most common type of breast cancer. These are always
considered invasive because they spread to surrounding tissue.
(Lobular carcinoma in situ is sometimes referred to as cancer but
actually stays confined to the lobules or milk glands. However, this type
serves as an indicator that you have a higher chance of developing
breast cancer in the future.)
Other breast cancers
Other, rarer types of cancer include:
Breast sarcomas are cancers that start from connective tissues of the
breast, such as muscle, fat, or blood vessels.
Inflammatory breast cancer blocks the lymphatic vessels in the
breast, causing severe inflammation.
Paget's Disease of the breast is a rare form of breast cancer where
cancer cells gather in or around the nipple.
Male breast cancer is very rare, but can occur. When it does, it is
usually ductal carcinoma.