Breast Cancer

About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer begins when the cells in the breast grow rapidly and out of control and form a tumor or lump in the breast. If the cancer is able to spread or metastasize to other parts of the body, the tumor is considered malignant. If cannot spread, the tumor is benign. Although breast cancer can occur in men, almost all breast cancers occur in women who are age 40 or over. Breast cancer usually grows from the ducts that carry the milk to your nipple. Some cancers grow from the lobular ducts that make breast milk. More rare cancers can occur in other tissue parts of the breast.

More women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other type of cancer. Behind lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women. However, this number has steadily decreased since 1989 because of better treatments and early detection screenings, according to the American Cancer Society.

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your board certified Palmer radiation oncologists will work with your medical team to discuss the array of advanced non-surgical radiation treatment options available to you and the success rates with each type. Survival rates for breast cancer are high:

Average Breast Cancer Survival Rates*
5-Year Survival Rate 10-Year Survival Rate 15-Year Survival Rate
89% 83% 78%
* Percent still living after initial diagnosis. Includes all stages of women who die of breast cancer.

For breast cancer that is still localized within the breast, the 5-year survival rate is even higher at 99 percent. And 61 percent of cancers are found at this stage. It is common for breast cancer to travel, or metastasize to other parts of the body and need to be treated there. Treatment options for breast cancer may consist of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, and drug therapy. Your cancer experts at Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center offer several breast cancer treatments depending on the stage of cancer.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Some factors may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Somewhere between five and ten percent of cancers are inherited from changing genes that are passed down within a family. Most women diagnosed with cancer have no family connection and no obvious risk factors. Although most breast cancers might appear to occur by chance, doctors have outlined some lifestyle factors they believe may increase your risk of breast cancer.

    • Age: Women over 50 are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
    • History: You are more likely to get breast cancer if you’ve already had breast or ovarian cancer in the past.
    • Family Connection: Various family incidents of breast or ovarian cancer can increase your risk of breast cancer.
    • Genetics: Gene mutations or hereditary conditions can in rare instances increase your risk.
    • Hormones: Long-term exposure to estrogen and progesterone hormones.
    • Birth Control: This one is back-and-forth as some studies say oral contraceptives slighting increase the risk of breast cancer, and other studies show no link.
    • Race & Ethnicity: If you are a white woman over the age of 40, you are more at risk for breast cancer.
    • Socioeconomics: More affluent women in all race and ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than less affluent women in the same groups, possibly due to variations in diet, environmental exposures, and other risk factors such as breast density.
  • Lifestyle Factors:
    • Drinking more than two to five alcoholic beverages daily
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Lack of physical activity
    • Not having children or having first child after 30

Use these links to find out more about breast cancer:

Call Your Palmer Cancer Center Today!

At Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center, our caring cancer experts are here to help you find the best possible treatment options for your breast cancer. You owe it to yourself to find out more about the breast cancer treatment options available to you in Palmer. Call us today at 907-707-1333 for a free, no obligation phone consultation. Or, reach out to us using our online message form. One of our board-certified radiation oncologists will get back with you within 24 hours and answer all of your questions about our non-surgical, non-invasive treatments. You can trust us to develop a treatment plan that will give you the best possible outcomes. Call us today.