Breast cancer occurs when cells divide and grow without their normal control. These cells slowly grow into a tumor and become malignant when it invades or spread to other tissues in the body. The tumor may take as long as 10 years to become large enough to feel. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple.
About 1 in 8 women in the US is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016, about 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 40,450 women will die from the disease. The good news is that today there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors living in the US. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50.
These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment. We encourage all women to learn their risk factors, and speak with their physician about when they should begin screening for breast cancer. Early detection is the best protection against breast cancer.
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