Breast cancer is the collective term for all the cancers that originate in breast tissue. Most of these begin in the glandular tissue, though the most common of all breast cancers starts in the breast ducts. Most cases of breast cancer are not familial – they occur when there is either no family history or only one case in an older relative, which would be expected to occur by chance.
About 300 men develop breast cancer in the UK every year. Of all women who develop breast cancer, about 1 in 5 has a significant family history of the disease. Of these, around a quarter – or 2,400 patients each year – have inherited faults in known breast cancer genes, e.g. BRCA1 and BRCA2.
A further 4,800 – 7,200 people each year are believed to be affected by other genetic factors linked to breast cancer, but the specific genes involved are not yet known in many cases.
If there is a history of breast cancer, or some other cancers (especially ovarian cancer) in your family, this may increase your risk of developing the disease, and possibly developing it at a younger age. It doesn’t, however, mean that you’ll definitely get breast cancer.We can’t always say what causes breast cancer or predict who will develop it, but a combination of inherited, lifestyle and environmental factors can play a role.
The size, stage, rate of growth, and other characteristics of the tumour determine the kinds of treatment.Treatment may include surgery, drugs (hormonal therapy and chemotherapy), radiation and/or immunotherapy.