Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women
it affects approximately one million women worldwide. Breast cancer accounts for 30 per cent of all female cancers in the UK and approximately 1 in 9 women in the UK will get breast cancer sometime during their life.
The incidence of breast cancer increases with age and doubles every 10 years until the menopause when the rate of increase slows. Approximately a quarter of breast cancers affect women under the age of 50, a half occur between the ages of 50 and 69 and the remaining quarter develop in women who are 70 years or older.
Generally, breast cancers are not painful and women do not feel unwell with them. They are often discovered by a routine self-examination as a lump or an area of lumpiness or irregularity in breast tissue.
Breast cancer is now commonly diagnosed by breast screening in women who have no symptoms. Approximately 6 in every 1000 women between the ages of 50 and 64 who attend for screening will be found to have breast cancer the first time they attend screening.
The treatment of the disease depends on the tumour type and the stage of disease - how far it has spread to involve either lymph glands or other organs in the body.
Early breast cancer can be treated by a combination of local treatments to control the local disease and adjuvent treatments to kill any cells which may have spread.