Cancer means abnormal cells multiplying uncontrolledly

Cancer means abnormal cells multiplying uncontrolledly. For breast cancer, cells can stay in the breast or spread through the body through blood or lymphatic vessels. Most of the time breast cancer progression takes months and even years.

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in women around the world, both before and after menopause1. One in 9 women will have breast cancer in her lifetime and 1 in 27 women. will die.

Most often breast cancer occurs after 50 years. Survival rate 5 years after diagnosis ranges from 80 % to 90 % depending on age and type of cancer.

The number of people affected has grown slightly but steadily over the last 3 decades. On the other hand, the death rate has decreased steadily over the same period, thanks to progress in screening, diagnosis and treatment.

It should be mentioned that men can be affected as well; they account for 1 % of all cases.

The breast

Breast cancer

The breast consists of grease, glands, and canals (see diagram opposite). Lobular glands produce milk and canals (lactation channels or galactophores) are used to transport milk to the nipple. Breast tissues are influenced by hormones produced by women in variable amounts throughout their lives (puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc.). These hormones are estrogen and progesterone.

Types of breast cancer

The various types of breast cancer evolve differently:

Non invasive cancer

Canal carcinoma in situ. This is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer in women. As its name suggests, it forms inside the breast lactation channels. This type of cancer has been diagnosed much more frequently since the more widespread use of mammography. The treatment of this cancer leads to healing in almost every case. Normally it doesn’t disséminate. In exceptional cases, without treatment, it continues to grow and can then become ′′ infiltrating ′′ so spread outside the lactation channels.

Invasive or infiltrating cancers

These forms of cancer invade tissues around lactation channels, but remain inside the breast. However, if the tumor is untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body (e.g. bones, lungs or liver) by generating metastases.

Canal carcinoma. It is formed in the lactation channels. Cancer cells pass through the canal wall;

Lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells appear in lobules grouped in lobes. Then, they cross the wall of lobules and spread into surrounding tissues;

Inflammatory carcinoma A rare cancer that is characterized mainly by a breast that can become red, swollen and hot. Breast skin can also look like orange skin. This type of cancer is progressing faster and more difficult to treat;

Other carcinomas (spinal cord, collomodes or mucinous, tubular, papillary). These types of breast cancer are rarer. The main differences between these types of cancer are based on the type of cells affected;

Paget’s disease. A rare cancer manifested in a small nipple wound that doesn’t cure.


There are several risk factors for breast cancer. In most cases, however, it is impossible to explain why he or she appeared in a particular person.

Mutations on genes, passed down from generation to generation or acquired over life (exposure to radiation or toxic chemicals, for example, can alter genes), can cause breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, for example, are genes of susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer. Women who carry mutations of these genes have a very high risk of cancer.

Evolution of the world

Chances of healing depend on the type of cancer and its stage of evolution as treatments begin. Various factors influences how quickly a tumor will grow. To learn more about the stages of cancer evolution,


A bump in the breast, whether fixed or mobile. This is the most common symptoms for both women and men.

Note. Most of the bumps detected in the breast, however, are not cancerous;

Spontaneous flow from the nipple;

A nipple retraction (nipple turned inwards);

A change in the appearance of a breast’s skin: thickening or hardening (′′ orange skin ′′), unusual redness, heat, change (desquamation) of the skin around the nipple;

An unusual change in size or breast shape.

Several factors can affect breast tissue and change the appearance of breasts: pregnancy, menstrual cycle, breast cyst, infection, etc.

People at risk

A number of unreadable elements increase the risk of breast cancer.

These risk factors allow doctors to determine which people could benefit most from screening and preventive measures.

Main risk elements:

Female sex. Less than 1 % of breast cancer cases affect men and they are generally over 60 years old;

Age The disease very rarely affects women under the age of 30 About 85 % of cases occur at age 50 or older2;

Family history. Having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer or ovarian cancer increases the risk of being affected. 5 % to 10 % of breast cancer is reportedly caused by an anomaly transmitted by inheritance. The major breast cancer (and ovarian) predisposition genes are named BRCA1 and BRCA2. Normally these genes protect from cancer. If they are defective, they can’t do their duties anymore. There are tests to verify whether a woman from a family at risk carries a mutation to one of these genes;

Personal background. Having already had breast cancer increases the risk of a second cancer forming;

Having a risky breast injury (diagnosed during biopsy). Women with at risk lesion, such as atypical intracanal epithelial hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ, are more likely to have breast cancer one day.

Notice. Note that the breast cyst is not a risk injury. It does not increase the risk of breast cancer;

Nulliparity or late pregnancy. Not having had a child or giving birth only after age 35

Other risk factors:

Increased exposure to natural estrogen. Early arrival of first menstruation (before age 12) or late menopause (after age 55)

Radiation therapy treatments Women who have received high doses of chest radiation (high-intensity X-rays) are known to have breast cancer, especially if radiation started before 30 years.