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Breast: Introduction
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Breast cancer occurs when a malignant (cancerous) tumor originates in the breast. As breast cancer tumors mature, they may metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. The primary route of metastasis is the lymph system which, ironically enough, is also the body's primary system for producing and transporting white blood cells and other cancer-fighting immune system cells throughout the body. Metastasized cancer cells that aren't destroyed by the lymph system's white blood cells move through the lymph system and settle in remote body locations, forming new tumors and perpetuating the disease process.

Breast cancer is fairly common. A recent National Cancer Institute report estimates that one in every eight women (12.5%!) born in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Because of its well publicized nature, and potential for lethality, breast cancer is arguably the most frightening type of cancer diagnosis someone can receive. However, it is important to keep in mind that, if identified and properly treated while still in its early stages, breast cancer can be cured.

Breast cancer is not just a woman's disease. It is quite possible for men to get breast cancer, although it occurs less frequently in men than in women. Our discussion will focus primarily on breast cancer as it relates to women but it should be noted that much of the information is also applicable for men.

 

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