Breast Cancer

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when your breast tissue cells rapidly divide and grow abnormally. As these cells multiply, they accumulate and form lumps known as tumours.

Breast cancer usually starts in cells in your milk ducts or in your glandular tissue that supplies them with milk called lobules. As cancer grows, the cells can spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body.

Your doctor will stage your cancer according to the size of your tumour and whether and how far it has spread to help decide what your treatments options are.

The exact cause of breast cancer development in some people is not fully understood. However, there are risk factors that are known to increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. They include:

  • women over 50 years of age who have been through the menopause
  • family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in close relatives
  • previous non-cancerous breast lump or breast cancer
  • taking a contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • being overweight or obese
  • drinking alcohol

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