Breast Cancer : General Background

855 WordsFeb 16, 20164 Pages
B.1 Breast cancer B.1.1 Breast cancer: General background In the United States breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women after skin cancer and is second to lung cancer in causing cancer-related mortality. In the last few decades, greater awareness, early detection and improved treatment options have significantly declined breast-cancer related mortality. Statistics from 2015 indicate that the 5-year survival for localized female breast cancer in above 98%. However, the 5-year survival of patients with distant or metastatic breast cancer is only about 25%. Thus, breast cancer metastasis continues to be a significant hurdle and several agencies are invested in exploring preventive and curative strategies against it. B.1.2 Breast cancer: Pathology and heterogeneity Physiologically the breast or the “mammary gland” is a specialized organ for milk production (lactation) in mammals. It consists mainly of a network of glands that undergo dramatic changes in females during puberty, gestation and menopause; along with connective tissue, fat cells, lymph nodes and blood vessels. The glands are made up of a) milk-producing lobules and b) ducts (thin tubules) that carry the milk from the lobules to the nipples (figure). The lobules and the ducts are lined with epithelial cells that can undergo oncogenic transformation, thereby resulting in carcinomas – cancers of the epithelial cells. A majority of breast cancers consist of carcinomas originating from the
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