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Breast Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Breast Cancer

This summary discusses primary epithelial breast cancers in women. The breast is rarely affected by other tumors such as lymphomas, sarcomas, or melanomas. Refer to the following PDQ summaries for more information on these cancer types:

  • Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment
  • Adult Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment
  • Melanoma Treatment

Breast cancer also affects men and children and may occur during pregnancy, although it is rare in these populations. Refer to the following PDQ summaries for more information:

  • Male Breast Cancer Treatment
  • Breast Cancer Treatment and Pregnancy
  • Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment

Incidence and Mortality

Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer (women only) in the United States in 2014:[1]

  • New cases: 232,670.
  • Deaths: 40,000.

Breast cancer is the most common noncutaneous cancer in U.S. women, with an estimated 62,570 cases of in situ disease, 232,670 new cases of invasive disease, and 40,000 deaths expected in 2014.[1] Thus, fewer than one of six women diagnosed with breast cancer die of the disease. By comparison, it is estimated that about 72,330 American women will die of lung cancer in 2014.[1] Men account for 1% of breast cancer cases and breast cancer deaths (refer to the Special Populations section in the PDQ summary on Breast Cancer Screening for more information).

Widespread adoption of screening increases breast cancer incidence in a given population and changes the characteristics of cancers detected, with increased incidence of lower-risk cancers, premalignant lesions, and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). (Refer to the Ductal Carcinoma In Situ section in the Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Pathology section in the PDQ summary on Breast Cancer Screening for more information.) Population studies from the United States [2] and the United Kingdom [3] demonstrate an increase in DCIS and invasive breast cancer incidence since the 1970s, attributable to the widespread adoption of both postmenopausal hormone therapy and screening mammography. In the last decade, women have refrained from using postmenopausal hormones, and breast cancer incidence has declined, but not to the levels seen before the widespread use of screening mammography.[4]

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