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American Cancer Society: Breast Cancer


This 106-page guide from the American Cancer Society provides detailed information about breast cancer, including information on risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

This guide addresses the following topics:

  • What is cancer?
  • What is breast cancer?
    • Normal breast structure
    • Benign breast lumps
    • Breast cancer general terms
    • Types of breast cancers
  • What are the key statistics about breast cancer?
  • What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
    • Risk factors you cannot change
    • Lifestyle-related factors and breast cancer
    • Factors with uncertain, controversial, or unproven effect on breast cancer risk
  • Do we know what causes breast cancer?
  • Can breast cancer be prevented?
    • For women who may be at increased risk
  • Can breast cancer be found early?
    • American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection
    • Mammograms 
    • Clinical breast exam
    • Breast awareness and self exam
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • How is breast cancer diagnosed?
    • Signs and symptoms
    • Medical history and physical exam
    • Imaging tests used to evaluate breast disease
    • Other tests
    • Biopsy
    • Laboratory examination of breast cancer tissue
  • How is breast cancer staged?
    • Imaging tests to look for breast cancer spread
    • The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM (Tumor, Nodes, Metastasis) system
    • Breast cancer survival rates by stage 
  • How is breast cancer treated?
    • General types of treatment
    • Surgery for breast cancer
    • Radiation therapy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Hormone therapy
    • Targeted therapy
    • Bisphosphonates
    • High-dose chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant
    • Clinical trials
    • Complementary and alternative therapies
    • Treatment of stage 0 (noninvasive) breast cancer
    • Treatment of invasive breast cancer by stage
    • Treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy
    • More treatment information
  • What should you ask your doctor about breast cancer?
  • What happens after treatment for breast cancer?
    • Followup care
    • Lymphedema
    • Quality of life
    • Emotional aspects of breast cancer
    • Body image
    • Sexuality
    • Pregnancy after breast cancer
    • Postmenopausal hormone therapy after breast cancer
    • Seeing a new doctor
    • Lifestyle changes to consider during and after treatment
    • What happens if treatment is no longer working?
  • What's new in breast cancer research and treatment?
    • Causes of breast cancer
    • Gene expression studies and new breast cancer classifications
    • Chemoprevention
    • Newer imaging tests
    • MRI-assisted breast biopsy
    • Treatment
  • Additional resources
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American Cancer Society

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American Cancer Society

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Related Resources

  • Abeloff MD, Wolff AC, Wood WC, et al. Cancer of the breast. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Lichter AS, et al, editor(s). Clinical oncology. Philadelphia (PA): Elsevier; 2004. p. 2369-70.
  • American Cancer Society. Cancer facts & figures 2006. Atlanta (GA): American Cancer Society; 2006.
  • American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). AJCC cancer staging manual. 6th ed. New York (NY): Springer Verlag; 2002. p. 221-40.
  • Avis NE, Crawford S, Manuel J. Quality of life among younger women with breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 2005 May 20;23(15):3322-30. [PubMed]
  • Barthelmes L, Davidson LA, Gaffney C, et al. Pregnancy and breast cancer. BMJ 2005 Jun 11;330(7504):1375-8. [11 references] [PubMed]
  • Dorval M, Guay S, Mondor M, et al. Couples who get closer after breast cancer: frequency and predictors in a prospective investigation. J Clin Oncol 2005 May 20;23(15):3588-96. [PubMed]
  • Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group (EBCTCG). Effects of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy for early breast cancer on recurrence and 15-year survival: an overview of the randomised trials. Lancet 2005 May 14-20;365(9472):1687-717. [PubMed]
  • Holmberg L, Anderson H. HABITS (hormonal replacement therapy after breast cancer—is it safe?), a randomised comparison: trial stopped. Lancet 2004 Feb 7;363(9407):453-5. [PubMed]
  • Margolese RG, Hortobagyi GN, Buchholz TA. Neoplasms of the breast. In: Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al, editor(s). Cancer medicine. 6th ed. Hamilton (ON): BC Decker; 2003. p. 1879-2.
  • Pisano ED, Gatsonis C, Hendrick E, et al. Diagnostic performance of digital versus film mammography for breast-cancer screening. N Engl J Med 2005 Oct 27;353(17):1773-83. E-pub 2005 Sep 16. [36 references] [PubMed]
  • Winer EP, Carey LA, Dowsett M, et al. Beyond anatomic staging: is it time to take a leap into the molecular era? In: American Society of Clinical Oncology educational book. Alexandria (VA): American Society of Clinical Oncology; 2005.
  • Wood WC, Muss HB, Solin LJ, et al. Malignant tumors of the breast. In: DeVita VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, editor(s). Cancer: principles and practice of oncology. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott-Williams & Wilkins; 2005. p. 1415-77.


  • Release Date: 09/2004
  • Review Date: 08/2006
  • Recent Summary: 08/2006
  • Original Summary: 10/2004
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Last updated: December 19, 2012.