Breast cancer is a type of cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas, while those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas. Breast cancer occurs in humans and other mammals. While the overwhelming majority of human cases are in women, breast cancer can also occur in men.
The balance of benefits versus harms of breast cancer screening is controversial. The characteristics of the cancer determine the treatment, which may include surgery, medications (hormonal therapy and chemotherapy), radiation and/or immunotherapy. Surgery provides the single largest benefit, and to increase the likelihood of remission (no further sign of the cancer), several chemotherapy regimens are commonly given in addition. Radiation is used after breast-conserving surgery and substantially improves local relapse rates and in many circumstances also overall survival.
Worldwide, breast cancer accounts for 22.9% of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) in women. In 2008, breast cancer caused 458,503 deaths worldwide (13.7% of cancer deaths in women). Breast cancer is more than 100 times more common in women than in men, although men tend to have poorer outcomes due to delays in diagnosis.
Prognosis and survival rates for breast cancer vary greatly depending on the cancer type, stage, treatment, and geographical location of the patient. Survival rates in the Western world are high; for example, more than 8 out of 10 women (85%) in England diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least 5 years. In developing countries, however, survival rates are much poorer.