Directly you hear the word 'breast cancer',the picture of a female patient is conjured up. This disease is not confined to females. Though rare, males can also contract this type of cancer. Cancer that starts in tissues of the breast in males and females is commonly known as breast cancer which is the second most common cancer type in the world. The first sign of breast cancer is a lump or a mass in the underarm or breast area that feels different to the touch. Other symptoms may be a change in size and shape of the breast, nipple inversion, skin irritation or dimpling, swelling of the full breast or part of it, and a discharge from the nipple. It pays to be cognizant of these signs for early detection of cancer. At the first sign of breast cancer, the prudent thing to do is to consult a doctor. Your doctor will feel your breasts for lumps or any suspect growth. Benign lumps are different to the touch from the cancerous lumps. If the doctor suspects it to be cancer, he will clear any doubts he has with the aid of an xray mammography, an ultrasound scan, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a biopsy. If you are diagnosed with the disease, he may order more lab tests to help him further study it and plan his treatment. There are several treatment methods as regards breast cancer. They are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy and biological therapy. Out of these, surgery and radiation are local therapies. The others are systemic therapies. The former removes or destroys the cancer in the breast whilst the latter enters the blood stream and controls or destroys the cancer. There are many risk factors associated with breast cancer. The risk factor is high if you are a woman as the breast cells are always exposed to hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. The risks also increase with age. If someone in your family has had breast cancer, you are more at risk than those who do not have a significant family history. Breast cancer is supposed to be the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the world. This goes to show the gravity of this disease. However, it’s comforting to know that billions of dollars are spent yearly on research work to find out the causes and treatments of it.