Breast Cancer
Fact Sheet
General Population
  • Annual cases: -232,0001
  • Median age at diagnosis: 611
  • Overall 5-year relative survival rate: 89.2%1
  • Lifetime risk in general population (female): 12.3%1
  • Risk with an affected 1st degree relative: 1.8-2.1x the general population risk2,3

Associated Myriad myRisk™ Genes:



The breast is mainly made up of three components: lobules, ducts, and fatty tissue. Breast cancers that arise from the epithelial cells lining these ducts and lobules are called carcinomas and account for the majority of all breast cancer cases.

Carcinomas of the breast can be found to have either invaded into surrounding tissues (invasive or infiltrating) or not (in situ). In situ carcinomas, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), are treated very differently and much less aggressively than its invasive counterpart. The most common breast cancer is the invasive ductal carcinoma and is the focus of this document.

While the primary focus for breast cancer is on women, men can get breast cancer as well. In 2013, there was an estimated ~2200 new cases of invasive breast cancer expected in men in the US

Signs and Symptoms4,5,6

Change in the look or feel of the breast or nipple; breast lump or mass; swelling in all or part of the breast; skin irritation or dimpling; breast or nipple pain; nipple retraction; redness, darkening, warm, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin; nipple discharge; swollen lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone.

Diagnosis and work-up

Screening Options4,5,6

Medical guidelines recommend those at general population risk for breast cancer to have regular screening. Beginning in the 20s, these include: clinical breast exam every 1-3 years, and self-awareness of breast changes. Beginning at age 40-50 these include: annual clinical breast exams, annual mammograms, self-awareness of breast changes.

For those at increased risk (e.g., >20% lifetime risk of breast cancer), the following screening changes may be warranted: clinical breast exams every 6-12 months, annual mammograms and MRIs beginning at age 30 and consideration of other risk reduction strategies. Individuals with greater breast cancer risk may require a more intensive medical management plan.

There are no screening recommendations for men at average-risk but breast self-exam, regular CBEs and mammography screening (particularly in those with gynecomastia) may be considered in men with increased risk.

Treatment Options4,5,6

Early-advanced stage cancer

Treatment for small and localized breast tumors typically involve breast-conserving surgery where only the cancer and nearby tissues are removed (lumpectomy). This is often followed by lymph node dissection and/or therapy to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

More extensive surgery such as removing nearly all breast tissue (modified radical mastectomy) with or without breast reconstruction may be an option.

Radiation, chemotherapy with or without hormone therapy, hormone therapy alone, and/or targeted therapy can all be used as adjuvant treatments. Choices of therapy depend on individual factors such as the presence of hormone receptors. If the breast cancer is not immediately operable, neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be recommended.

Metastatic stage cancer

The primary treatment is with systemic therapy, which may include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and/or some combination of these treatments. Palliative interventions are often used in patients with metastatic cancers in order to prevent/ relieve symptoms.

Risk Factors4,5,6

Demographics: Older age; female gender

Lifestyle: Obesity; alcohol consumption; physical inactivity

Medical History: Previous history of breast cancer, LCIS, proliferative breast conditions with or without atypia; dense breast tissue; post-menopausal estrogen and progesterone hormone therapy; previous chest wall radiation exposure; diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure; nulliparity; age of first pregnancy >30 years

Risk reduction options: Multiple pregnancies; pregnancy >age 30; breastfeeding; physical activity; preventive mastectomy; pre-menopausal oophorectomy; chemopreventive drugs such as Tamoxifen and Raloxifene

Inherited: Family history of disease; inherited genetic syndromes

Associated Myriad MyRisk™ Genes: BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN, STK11, CDH1, PALB2, CHEK2, ATM, NBN, BARD1, BRIP1, RAD51C


  1. Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, National Cancer Institute ( Dec 10, 2013.
  2. Pharoah PD, Day NE, Duffy S, Easton DF, Ponder BA. Family history and the risk of breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cancer. 1997 May 29;71(5):800-9. PubMed PMID: 9180149.
  3. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Familial breast cancer: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 52 epidemiological studies including 58,209 women with breast cancer and 101,986 women without the disease. Lancet. 2001 Oct 27;358(9291):1389- 99. Review. PubMed PMID: 11705483.
  4. American Society of Clinical Oncology: Breast Cancer (http://www. Dec 10, 2013.
  5. American Cancer Society: Breast Cancer ( Dec 10, 2013
  6. National Cancer Institute: Breast Cancer treatment ( Dec 10, 2013
  7. Bevers TB et al. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: BreastCancer Screening and Diagnosis. V 2.2013