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Breast Cancer - Forrest Health
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    Breast Cancer

    Debbie Thomson, a breast cancer survivor, signs the 2014 Drive to Inspire car.

    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women regardless of race or ethnicity. It begins in the breast tissue that is made up of glands for milk production, called lobules, and the ducts that connect the lobules to the nipple. The remainder of the breast is made up of fatty, connective, and lymphatic tissues. 

    While all breasts are made up of three main parts—glands, ducts, and connective tissues—the size and shape vary from woman to woman. The way breasts look and feel can be affected by age, weight or medications. Most women say their breasts feel lumpy or uneven, but a lot of the time, it’s only when an unusual lump is found that notice is taken.

    Risk Factors

    • Younger age during first menstrual period
    • Starting menopause at a later age
    • Being older at birth of first child, never giving birth
    • Not breastfeeding
    • Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
    • Changes in the breast cancer-related genes BRCA1 or BRCA2
    • Personal history
    • Family history
    • Age
    • Diet
    • Lifestyle


    • New lump in breast or underarm
    • Thickening/swelling of part of breast
    • Irritation/dimpling of breast skin
    • Redness/flaky skin in nipple area or breast
    • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in nipple area
    • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
    • Any change in size/shape of breast
    • Pain in any area of breast


    • Mammogram
    • Clinical breast exam
    • Self breast exam


    Stages 0-IV tell whether cancer is limited to one area in breast, or has spread to healthy tissues inside breast or other parts of body based on these characteristics: Size, invasive or non-invasive, in lymph nodes or not, and spreading to other body parts.

    Treatment Methods

    • Surgery
    • Chemotherapy
    • Hormonal therapy
    • Biologic therapy
    • Radiation

    Most often, more than one kind of treatment is used.