Breast cancer is the presence of cancerous (malignant) cells in the breast tissue. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among US women. Nearly 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the US. It rarely affects men.
At Dignity Health, our experienced staff consists of licensed, female mammography technologists, board-certified radiologists, and many other breast cancer experts.
Find a Doctor at Dignity Health who treats breast cancer in the Bay Area with a philosophy of care, dignity, and respect.
Types of Breast Cancer
There are many different types of breast cancer but the most common are:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is cancer of the cells lining the milk ducts. It is an early stage of the disease and is very treatable.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma has moved beyond the milk ducts and into the surrounding breast tissue. It is the most common type of breast cancer.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma forms in the milk-producing glands of the breast and spreads to other breast tissues.
Less common types of breast cancer include angiosarcoma, Phyllodes tumor, Paget disease of the nipple, and inflammatory breast cancer.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
Doctors don’t always know what causes breast cancer. However they have identified a number of risk factors. The main risk factor is being a woman, but others include:
- Personal or family history of breast cancer
- Age — the risk increases with age
- Late menopause after age 55
- Early menstruation before age 12
- Certain breast conditions, such as dense breast tissue
- Lifestyle factors, including as drinking alcohol, being overweight, and not exercising
- Genetics — five to 10 percent of breast cancers are related to changes in genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Caucasian race
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic form of estrogen prescribed to pregnant women in the 1940s and 1950s to prevent miscarriage
- Previous chest radiation therapy
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Most breast cancers are found by mammogram before any symptoms develop. When there are signs, the most common is a lump or mass.
Breast Cancer Treatment in the Bay Area
At Dignity Health, our oncologists typically use a combination of breast cancer treatment options, including:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted immune therapy
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will check the cancer for hormone receptors and look to see if it has spread beyond the breast. These results, along with the type and stage of the cancer, will help your doctor determine which treatment options are right for you.