Cancer is not just one disease but rather a group of diseases. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women (after skin cancer) and one out of eight women will develop this disease. Since this disease is so common and affects so many women, every woman should be well informed on the subject of breast cancer including detection, treatment, and different ways to fight breast cancer.
All forms of cancer cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a lump or mass called a tumor. Cells from the tumor can break away and travel to other parts of the body. There the cancerous cells can continue to grow. This spreading process is called metastasis. When cancer spreads, it is still named after the part of the body where it started. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lungs, it is still breast cancer, not lung cancer. Another word for cancerous is malignant. Therefore, a cancerous tumor is called malignant. However, not all tumors are cancer. A tumor that is not cancer is called benign. Benign tumors do not grow and spread in the same manner cancer does and the tumors are usually not a threat to life. A few cancers, such as blood cancers (leukemia), do not form a tumor. .
Breast cancer begins in the breast tissue. Men may also develop breast cancer, although this is rare. (Women.com, pp. 6) Inside the breasts are glands that produce and release milk after a woman has a baby. The glands that make the milk are called lobules and the tubes connecting the lobules to the nipple are called ducts. The breast itself is made up of lobules, ducts, and fatty, connective, and lymphatic tissue. There are several types of breast tumors. Most are benign; that is, they are not cancerous. These lumps are often caused by fibrocystic changes. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs, and fibrosis refers to connective tissue or scar tissue formation.