Pacific Cancer Programs

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Information for:

Practitioners

Program Managers and Coalition Members

The Community

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Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow out of control. Cancers are named after the part of the body where the abnormal cell growth begins. Breast cancers are cancer cells from the breast. When breast cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, they are called metastases.

Fast Facts about Breast Cancer

  • Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer in the United States is the most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity.
  • The most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women.
  • The second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.

In the USA in 2004 (the most recent year numbers are available for the United States):

Can Men Get Breast Cancer?

Men can also get breast cancer. In men, breast cancer can happen at any age, but is most common in men who are between 60 and 70 years old. Male breast cancer is not very common. For every 100 cases of breast cancer, less than 1 is in men.

For men, signs of breast cancer and treatment are almost the same as for women. For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Physician Data Query (PDQ) on Male Breast Cancer Treatment.

Common Kinds of Breast Cancer

There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast, like the ducts or the lobes. Common kinds of breast cancer are:

Ductal carcinoma. The most common kind of breast cancer. It begins in the cells that line the milk ducts in the breast, also called the lining of the breast ducts.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The abnormal cancer cells are only in the lining of the milk ducts, and have not spread to other tissues in the breast.

Invasive ductal carcinoma. The abnormal cancer cells break through the ducts and spread into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.

Lobular carcinoma. In this kind of breast cancer, the cancer cells begin in the lobes, or lobules, of the breast. Lobules are the glands that make milk.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). The cancer cells are found only in the breast lobules. Lobular carcinoma in situ, or LCIS, does not spread to other tissues very often.

Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.

Uncommon Kinds of Breast Cancer

There are several other less common kinds of breast cancer, such as Paget's disease or inflammatory breast cancer. For more information about these kinds of breast cancer, visit the NCI's General Information about Breast Cancer Treatment page.

Online Tools

Siteman Cancer Center Online Breast Cancer Risk Questionnaire - To estimate your risk of breast cancer and learn about ways to lower that risk, take a few minutes to answer some questions about your health, background, and lifestyle.

MedlinePlus - Breast Cancer Link - MedlinePlus will direct you to information to help answer health questions. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news. Please make sure you check the MedlinePlus online for breast cancer with an extensive, constantly updated resource list.

Breast Cancer Information Online

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) among others, provide many on-line cancer resources. Please make sure you visit their constantly updated websites, reflecting the latest scientific findings and visit the links for more information about cervical cancer.

Printable Materials to Download

"Understanding Breast Health" - This publication form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a basic two-page fact sheet. It describes the parts of the breast and answers common questions about breast cancer.

Understanding Mammograms - This two-page fact sheet explains what a mammogram is and when you should get one.

Mammograms and Breast Health - This 20-page brochure provides detailed information about breast health, breast cancer, and mammograms, and includes a list of resources for further information.

"What You Need To Know About Breast Cancer" - Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in this country (other than skin cancer). Each year, more than 211,000 American women learn they have this disease. You will read about possible causes, screening, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. You will also find ideas about how to cope with the disease.

  • NCI, 2006, 81 pages. Download the PDF file: (pdf 580 KB).

Traditional Medicine - In many cultures traditional medicine plays an important role in treating the sick or addressing disease. Traditional medicine, and its practice and philosophical and cultural manifestations differ greatly from culture to culture. There is not a one size fits all explanation for traditional medicine. In many Pacific cultures traditional medicine play a vital role in a communities health care, but it is ultimately up to the individual to seek help from traditional healers or not.

In the past decade the term ‘integrative medicine’ has become more common, where both Traditional and Western medical concepts can work hand in hand, focusing on what is best for the patient. Many people may seek the advise from the traditional healers in their culture, but my be reluctant to disclose this to their Western doctor. Traditional medicine can be very beneficial for many ailments, although cancer is such a complex disease that using traditional medicine alone might not be the best available treatment option. Traditional medicine has been very successful in treating e.g. nausea or rashes that often go along with many cancer treatments and western medicine might provide little relieve.

If you chose to consult a traditional healer please try to discuss this with your doctor or contact your cancer coordinator to find out what treatment options are available on your island.

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Funding for this website was made possible by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the following:
Pacific CEED, award #: 5U58DP000976,USAPI Community Health Interventions Project (CHIP), award #: 1U58DP005810,
Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry, award #: 5U58DP003906; Regional Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, award #: U55/CCU923887.
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Funding Sources: PRCCR: #: 5U58DP003906  | Pacific REACH: #: 1U58DP005810 | RCCC: #: U55/CCU923887 

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