What is Breast Cancer?

Reading time: 4 min

The term cancer encompasses a very large group of illnesses that are all characterised by abnormal cell growth; cancer cells divide and grow in an uncontrolled manner and in any part of the body. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates in breast tissue.

Tumours initially arise and grow inside milk ducts.

  • Intraductal carcinoma. If the malignant cells are contained within the duct and do not spread outside it, then it produces what is known as an intraductal carcinoma or ductal carcinoma in situ. The cells forming this type of cancer do not invade the surrounding mammary tissue, nor do they manage to affect the lymph nodes or other organs.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma. The tumour breaks through the walls of the milk duct and therefore cancerous cells can enter into the bloodstream or lymphatic vessels.

How many people does it affect?

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly occurring malignant tumours in women worldwide. In Spain, it affects more women than any other cancer and represents 29% of all cancers.

It is estimated that approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some time during their lives.

While the breast cancer mortality rate has decreased in recent years, thanks to screening programmes and treatment advances, it is still the leading cause of cancer-related death in Spanish women.

The age of maximum incidence occurs in women over 50 years, but approximately 10% of cases are diagnosed in patients below the age of 40.

Substantiated information by:

Bárbara Ádamo
Montserrat Muñoz
Aleix Prat
Ana Rodríguez

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018


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