Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in middle-aged
women in western countries. In 2004 approximately one and a
half million new cases were diagnosed worldwide. In England and
Wales, 1 in 12 women will develop the disease during their lifetime.
Carcinoma of the breast occurs commonly in the western world,
accounting for 3–5% of all deaths in women. In developing countries
it accounts for 1–3% of deaths.
Carcinoma of the breast is extremely rare below the age of 20
years but, thereafter, the incidence steadily rises so that by the age
of 90 years nearly 20% of women are affected.
Less than 0.5% of patients with breast cancer are male.
It occurs more commonly in women with a family history of
breast cancer than in the general population. Breast cancer
related to a specific mutation accounts for about 5% of breast
cancers yet has far-reaching repercussions in terms of counselling
and tumour prevention in these women. This will be discussed
more fully in a subsequent section.
Because breast cancer so commonly affects women in the ‘developed’
world, dietary factors may play a part in its causation. There
is some evidence that there is a link with diets low in phytoestrogens.
A high intake of alcohol is associated with an increased risk
of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is more common in nulliparous women and breastfeeding
in particular appears to be protective. Also protective is
having a first child at an early age, especially if associated with
late menarche and early menopause. It is known that in postmenopausal
women, breast cancer is more common in the obese.
This is thought to be because of an increased conversion of
steroid hormones to oestradiol in the body fat. Recent studies
have clarified the role of exogenous hormones, in particular the
oral contraceptive pill and HRT, in the development of breast
cancer. For most women the benefits of these treatments will far
outweigh the small putative risk; however, long-term exposure to
the combined preparation of HRT does significantly increase the
risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast Cancer 1
Breast Cancer 2
Breast Cancer 3
Breast Cancer 4
Breast Cancer 5
Breast Cancer 6
Breast Cancer 7 – Cochrane
Breast Cancer 8 – Guidelines UK
Breast Cancer 9 – BRCA 1 BRCA 2
Breast Cancer 10 – Self Exam
Breast Cancer 11 – Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Breast Cancer 12 – P63 Expression
Breast Cancer 13 – Menopausal HRT
Breast Cancer 14 – Risk Prediction
Breast Cancer 15 – Overview
Breast Cancer Recurrence
You Might Have Missed These Posts