MENU

About Breast Cancer

Allison A. Aggon, DO, FACOS, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, surgical practice is focused exclusively on patients with breast cancer, those at high risk for it, and those with complex benign breast conditions. Allison A. Aggon, DO, FACOS, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, surgical practice is focused exclusively on patients with breast cancer, those at high risk for it, and those with complex benign breast conditions.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity. 

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that has grown into surrounding tissues in the breast. It can spread (metastasize) to the lymph nodes and to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs predominantly in women, but men can develop breast cancer, too.

Breast Lumps

Discovering an unusual growth or mass immediately brings worries of breast cancer.

Breast lumps aren’t unusual. Palpable lumps, or lumps that you or your doctor can feel, are very common, particularly in premenopausal women.

There are many different kinds of breast lumps, but most of these lumps have one thing in common: They’re usually not cancerous tumors. The majority of lumps turn out to be harmless, or benign, masses or growths. These include:

  • Soft, fluid-filled lumps that can feel tender, especially before your period.
  • Rubbery lumps that move around under the skin and are usually painless.

Fibrocystic changes—painful, lumpy breasts that often get worse before your period.

Benign lumps can also develop from fatty tissue deposits or from breastfeeding, when sacs filled with milk form cysts. You can even get a lump from an injury, such as when your breast gets bruised or after breast surgery. 

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • Gender. Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer. Although women have many more breast cells than men, the main reason they develop breast cancer more often is because their breast cells are constantly exposed to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, which promote cell growth. Men can develop breast cancer, but this disease is about 100 times more common among women than men.
  • Age. Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.
  • Family history. The chance of developing breast cancer increases if a close relative, either male or female, had breast cancer. About 20 to 30 percent of women with breast cancer have a family member with the disease.
  • Gene changes. Breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene changes. The most common are in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which cause a significantly increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer
  • Previous breast cancer. A woman with cancer in one breast is three to four times more likely to develop a new cancer in the other breast, or in another part of the same breast. This is different from a recurrence, or return of the first cancer.
  • Benign breast biopsy. About 80 percent of all breast changes that are biopsied, or tested, are found to be benign, or not cancerous. But, some of these benign breast conditions are linked to an increase in breast cancer risk.
  • Radiation Exposure. Receiving radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30 can increase the risk of breast cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer appears to be highest if the radiation was given during adolescence, when the breasts are still developing.
  • Hormone exposure. Use of hormones after menopause called hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk for developing breast cancer.

Possible Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  • A new lump or mass
  • Irritated or dimpled breast skin
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • A nipple that points inward
  • Red, scaly or thickening nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

The Primary Types of Breast Cancer*

  • Ductal carcinoma. The most common type of breast cancer. It begins in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple). Ductal carcinoma may be either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or invasive ductal carcinoma. DCIS is a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct and have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast.
  • Lobular carcinoma. Cancer that begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Lobular carcinoma may be either lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or invasive lobular carcinoma. LCIS is a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast. LCIS rarely becomes invasive cancer, but having LCIS in one breast increases the risk of developing invasive cancer in either breast.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer. A type of breast cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm. The skin of the breast may also show the pitted appearance called peau d'orange (like the skin of an orange). The redness and warmth occur because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin.                                          
  • Triple negative breast cancer. Describes breast cancer cells that do not have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or large amounts of HER2/neu protein. Also called ER-negative PR-negative HER2/neu-negative breast cancer.                    
  • Recurrent breast cancer. Breast cancer that can recur when treatment doesn’t fully remove or destroy all the cancer cells.

To request an appointment fill out our online form or call 888-FOX-CHASE.


* www.cancer.gov (2019)

Connect with Fox Chase