Breast cancer refers to cancers originating from the breast tissue. It can occur in men and women, although male breast cancer is very rare.1 There are more than 1.3 million cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year.2 It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide, resulting in more than 450,000 deaths per year.2 Breast cancer accounts for 23% of all cancers diagnosed in women, making it the most commonly diagnosed tumour type in females.2
2. WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast cancer is the term used to describe the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the breast tissue, most commonly in the lobules (milk producing glands) and ducts (the passages that carry milk to the nipples), leading to the formation of a solid lump or tumour.3 Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas and those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas.
Early stage breast cancer refers to cancer that is confined to the breast tissue but if the cancer spreads to the underlying tissues of the chest wall, it is said to be locally advanced. Advanced breast cancer (metastatic breast cancer), refers to the stage of the disease where cancer cells have broken away from the primary breast cancer site and spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system.4