Breast cancer is a type of cancer originating from breast tissue, most
commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the
ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas,
while those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas. Breast
cancer occurs in humans and other mammals. While the overwhelming majority of
human cases occur in women, male breast cancer can also occur.
The benefit versus harms of breast cancer screening is controversial. The
characteristics of the cancer determine the treatment, which may include
surgery, medications (hormonal therapy and chemotherapy), radiation and/or
immunotherapy. Surgical provides the single largest benefit, and to increase the
likelihood of cure, several chemotherapy regimens are commonly given in
addition. Radiation is used after breast-conserving surgery and substantially
improves local relapse rates and in many circumstances also overall survival.
Worldwide, breast cancer accounts for 22.9% of all cancers (excluding
non-melanoma skin cancers) in women. In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503
deaths worldwide (13.7% of cancer deaths in women). Breast cancer is more than
100 times more common in women than in men, although men tend to have poorer
outcomes due to delays in diagnosis.
Prognosis and survival rates for breast cancer vary greatly depending on the
cancer type, stage, treatment, and geographical location of the patient.
Survival rates in the Western world are high; for example, more than 8 out of 10
women (84%) in England diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least 5
years. In developing countries, however, survival rates are much poorer.