The precise cause of the cancer of the breast, the commonest of all cancers in women, is unknown, although it is certain that hormonal factors are involved.
Cancer of the breast is more common in spinsters than in married women ,ore common in those who have never lactated than in those who have, and least common af all in those who have breast fed a number of children. It can occur at almost any age, with a peak incidence around the menopause.
The diagnosis is made by the discovery of a painless lump in the breast, with latter dimpling of the overlying skin and reactivation of the nipple. The disease spreads to the axillary lymph nodes and sometimes to the intrathoracic lymph nodes, and the n eventually by blood borne dissemination predominantly to the skeleton and to the lung.
All rates of growth tumor, and recurrences as long as 30 years after primary treatment are by no means unknown. Thus the conventional characteristic time defining a cancer “cure” a patient alive and well with no evidence of active disease five years after primary breast cancer treatment has to be extended in considering cancer of the breast.
The achievements and the problems associated with treating patients with more advanced disease will be discussed in some latter chapters, as well as the observations about acerbate therapy.
Approximately one in every one hundred breast cancers occurs in men. The symptoms, the signs, and the methods of treatment are essentially the same, but the outlook is somewhat poorer because of the increased likelihood of early intrathoracic lymph node spread.