VoxHealth
Medical Conditions

Breast cancer

Overview

Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any cancer except lung cancer. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are a number of risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include

  • Age - the chance of getting breast cancer rises as a woman gets older
  • Genes - there are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, that greatly increase the risk. Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
  • Personal factors - beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55.

Other risks include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy (also called menopausal hormone therapy), taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35 or having dense breasts.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exam and mammography can help find breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Men can have breast cancer, too, but the number of cases is small.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus

Symptoms

Symptom
Frequency
Lump in breast
Fatigue
General pain
Shortness of breath
Back pain
Nausea
Pain or soreness of breast
General weakness
Chest pain
Cough
Show more symptoms
Hot flashes
Headache
Arm pain
Fever
Vomiting
Abdominal pain
Depression
Dizziness
Hip pain
Leg pain
Numbness
Shoulder pain

Demographics

Age Distribution

The average age of someone with breast cancer is 59.

Gender Distribution

Prognosis

The average prognosis for someone diagnosed with breast cancer is good. The average five-year survival rate is 89%, meaning that 89% of people are still alive five years after their diagnosis.

Prognosis by Stage

Localized
Regional
Distant

If caught early (in the localized stage), the average five-year survival rate is 99%. Once the cancer has metastasized (the distant stage), the five-year survival rate drops to 25%.

Medications

Prescription

Medication Name
Substance
Drug Class
Soltamox
tamoxifen
Hormones/antineoplastics
Arimidex
anastrozole
Hormones/antineoplastics
Herceptin
trastuzumab
HER2 Inhibitors
Cytoxan
cyclophosphamide
Alkylating Agents
Taxol
paclitaxel
Mitotic Inhibitors
Xeloda
capecitabine
Antimetabolites
Zofran
ondansetron
Antiemetic/antivertigo Agents

Risk Factors

Racial/Ethnic Distribution

Prevalence is significantly higher among Caucasians.

Income

People in the third income quartile are more likely to be affected.
Prevalence is also higher among high income individuals.

Urban/Rural

Prevalence is highest among those living on the fringes of urban areas.

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All the data above are calculated from anonymized medical records.

Bars in this color represent statistically significant associations.