Breast cancer appears when cell from the breast tissue form a tumor of malign type. Unlike the benign type tumors, the cells of a malign type tumor grow in a way that makes them uncontrollable and life-threatening for the person who has them. Within the malign type of tumors associated there different other categories – mostly depending on where they are located. Two of the most common categories of breast cancer are in situ cancers and the invasive cancers. While in situ cancers are located within the glands for milk production (also called lobules) or the ducts that connect those to the nipple, invasive breast cancers affect not only lobules and ducts in the breast but also the rest of its tissue. Depending on how much an invasive cancer has spread, it can be categorized as a local-stage, regional-stage, or distant-stage. Another major difference between these categories comes from their probability to be cured, which is decreasing from one category to another, starting with in situ having very high chances for patient’s recovery and ending with the distant-stage one as the one with the lowest chances for recovery.
Statistics from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute indicate that almost 25 percent of US women diagnosed with cancer suffer from breast cancer. Additionally, they estimated a number of 207,090 new female cases and 39,840 deaths caused by female breast cancer for 2010. However, looking at the survival rates represents a more optimistic point of view. The numbers increased over time and they are currently estimated to be 89% at five years after diagnosis, 82% after 10 years, and 75% after 15 years.
Since breast cancer is curable in its initial stages, it is crucial for it to be diagnosed as early as possible. There is a large variety of methods that can be used for breast cancer testing purposes, including biopsy, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, CT (computerized tomography) scans or CAT (computerized axial tomography) scans, blood test, bone scans, mammograms, and ultrasounds. Other breast cancer testing methods that have become more and more commonly used in the recent years include approaches such as the genetic tests. All these have to be accompanied by the opinions and advices of specialized doctors in order to ensure both the adequacy of the diagnosis and the increase of chances for positive responses to prescribed treatment.
Screening is another form of testing that is done without the patient’s having any of the breast cancer symptoms. It can play a crucial role in fighting against a breast cancer because it identifies the disease’s cause in a stage in which the cells form nothing but an abnormal tissue that can be rapidly addressed and can prevent the manifestation of cancer symptoms and the spread of the disease to other tissues and organs. This form of testing is encouraged more and more often and as a preliminary testing, its results are relevant but not conclusive, which is why a positive screening results leads to additional tests being performed.