Back to the Basics
This is Breast Cancer 101 from ASCO's Cancer Net. It is a very clear and concise explanation of what breast cancer is, the various types, the possibilities, and a general overview of treatment. It does seem simplistic, I know, but I am often asked for this basic information--or, more specifically, asked where someone can find this information. It can be simpler to find articles that are more research driven or more complicated and, if all you want, is the elementary outline, they can be too much.
Here is the start and then a link to read more:
In the United States, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women (excluding skin cancer). Men can also develop breast cancer, butmale breast cancer is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all breast cancers.
About the breast
The breast is mostly made up of fatty tissue. Within this tissue is a network of lobes, which are made up of tiny, tube-like structures called lobules that contain milk glands. Tiny ducts connect the glands, lobules, and lobes, carrying the milk from the lobes to the nipple, located in the middle of the areola (darker area that surrounds the nipple). Blood and lymph vessels also run throughout the breast; blood nourishes the cells, and the lymph system drains bodily waste products. The lymph vessels connect to lymph nodes, the tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection.
About breast cancer
Cancer begins when normal cells in the breast change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body).
Breast cancer spreads when breast cancer cells move to other parts of the body through the blood vessels and/or lymph vessels. This is called metastasis. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to the regional lymph nodes. The lymph nodes can be axillary (located under the arm), cervical (located in the neck), or supraclavicular (located just above the collarbone). When it spreads further through the body, it most commonly spreads to the bones, lungs, and liver. Less commonly, breast cancer may spread to the brain. The cancer can also recur (come back after treatment) locally in the skin, in the same breast (if it was not removed as part of treatment), other tissues of the chest, or elsewhere in the body.