Basic Information About Breast Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but remain the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women.

Each year in the United States, about 245,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,200 in men. About 41,000 women and 460 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Over the last decade, the rate of getting breast cancer has not changed for women overall, but the rate has increased for black women and Asian and Pacific Islander women. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than white women.

Medical illustration of the breast
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer.
Photo of a woman experiencing breast pain
Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have symptoms at all. See a list of possible symptoms.
Photo of a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter
Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older.
Photo of two young women jogging
Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health.
Photo of a breast cancer survivor, her sister, and her aunt
If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, you may have a high risk of getting breast cancer.
Photo of a woman getting a mammogram
Breast cancer screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. All women need to be informed by their health care provider about the best screening options for them.
Photo of a woman getting a mammogram
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early.
Photo of a woman talking to her doctor
Every screening test has benefits and risks, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before getting any screening test, like a mammogram.
Photo of a breast cancer patient receiving an MRI
Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer. They may refer women to a breast specialist or a surgeon.
Photo of a breast cancer patient in a hospital talking to her doctor
Doctors often use additional tests to find or diagnose breast cancer. They may refer women to a breast specialist or a surgeon.