Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast start to change and grow abnormally and in an uncontrolled way. A gradual build up of these cells can form a lump, which is known as a tumour or a mass.
Lumps in the breast can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Unfortunately, if left untreated, the primary tumour can spread via the lymph nodes or blood vessels to other parts of the body including the liver, lungs and bones. The spread of cancer can create more tumours around the body, which is called metastasis.
Breast cancer affects both women and men, but is the most common cancer affecting Australian women. In 2021, breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.
Types of Breast Cancer
Some breast cancers, known as ‘pre-invasive’ or ‘carcinoma in situ’ breast cancers, appear inside the milk ducts or milk-producing lobules of the breast. Other ‘invasive’ breast cancers grow within normal breast tissue and may spread to elsewhere in the body. There are various types of breast cancer, including
Inflammatory breast cancer
Hormone receptor positive breast cancer
HER-2 positive breast cancer
Triple negative breast cancer (which tests negative for oestrogen, progesterone and HER-2).
Stages of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is most commonly divided into stages based on the tumour size and how much it has spread around the body. Breast cancer has five main stages, from 0 to 5 and this is determined based on a number of factors including:
Size of the tumour
If the cancer is invasive or non invasive
If the cancer has spread to nearby tissue or organs
If lymph nodes have been affected.
Male Breast Cancer
Although not as common, 1 in 700 Australian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year and is just as serious as the breast cancer females are diagnosed with.
Males do develop the same symptoms as females. It is strongly encouraged for anyone experiencing symptoms to get checked by their local doctor.
Men with breast cancer needn’t feel ostracised. You are not alone. Have a read of Ashley’s story, who shows it can happen to anyone.
Join the fight & donate today.
Australian Breast Cancer Research is unique in that we support breast cancer research across the disease lifespan; from prevention to treatment to cure. This research is vital to stop the pain breast cancer causes Australian families.
With a kind donation today, you join the fight against breast cancer. Thank you.