The Big picture…

The Big Picture

Australian Cancer Research Foundation

.CANCERRESEARCH is a collaborative initiative facilitated by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation. Its focus is to bring together news, information, and leading opinion on cancer treatment, prevention, diagnosis and cure. We want you to be a part of the .CANCERRESEARCH community...

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    Researchers have discovered a new way to interpret mammograms that could transform routine breast screening and save lives.
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  • In 2016, 1 in 8 women in Australia are at risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85
    Breast cancer facts and figures
    In 2016, 1 in 8 women worldwide are at risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85.
  • Breast cancer signs and symptoms
    Breast cancer, which begins when cells grow abnormally and the form tumours in the breast, can cause different types of signs and symptoms.
    Breast cancer is not a single disease. It is in fact, a collection of genetic changes that all lead to the same outcome: a tumor in the breast.



Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. In 2016, it is estimated that the risk of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime will be 1 in 8.


The breast.cancerresearch site provides news, information and leading opinions on breast cancer treatment, prevention, diagnosis and cure. Our topics include information on breast cancer, breast cancer symptoms, risk, screening, treatment options as well as the latest related breast cancer research news.


Our growing collection of articles is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for support and information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.

Types of Breast Cancer

Ductal Carcinoma occurs when abnormal changes take place in the cells which are found in the lining of a breast duct. Ductal carcinoma can be ‘In Situ’ meaning the abnormal or cancerous cells are contained inside the milk ducts and have not spread to the surrounding tissue.

It can also become ‘invasive’ when the cancerous cells spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it developed and starts growing into surrounding, healthy tissues.

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Lobular carcinoma occurs when abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast.

Lobular carcinoma will seldom become invasive cancer. However, having lobular carcinoma in one breast increases the risk of developing cancer in either breast.

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Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare form of invasive breast cancer in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. This type of breast cancer is called “inflammatory” as the breast becomes red and inflamed.

Most inflammatory breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas, which mean the cancer develops from cells that line the milk ducts of the breast and then spreads beyond the ducts, blocking the lymphatic vessels in the skin of the breast.

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Paget disease of the nipple occurs when abnormal cells are found in the nipple. The cancer usually affects the ducts of the nipple first then spreads to the nipple surface and the areola (the dark circle of skin around the nipple). The nipple and areola often become scaly, red, itchy, and irritated.

It’s common for people with Paget’s disease of the nipple to also have breast cancer somewhere else in the same breast.

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While breast cancer in men is uncommon, it’s not unheard of. Breast cancer in men accounts for around 1% of all breast cancer occurrences.

Breast cancer in men is the same disease as that which affects women. Male breast cancer can be early or advanced at diagnosis.

The most common types of male breast cancer include: invasive ductal carcinoma, Paget’s disease of the nipple, inflammatory breast cancer, infiltrating ductal carcinoma and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). There are a number of factors that increase a man’s risk of developing breast cancer:

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Once breast cancer has been diagnosed, certain tests will be performed to find out whether the cancer cells have spread within the breast or to other parts of the body.

Cancer can spread through the breast tissue, through the lymph system and also by getting into the blood stream and traveling to other parts of the body.

Tests used to determine how far the cancer has spread may include...

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Stage 0 is known as ‘carcinoma in situ’ and there are three types of breast carcinoma in situ.

The first type is ‘ductal carcinoma in situ’ (DCIS), a non-invasive type of breast cancer in which abnormal cells are found only in the lining of a breast duct and have not spread.

The second type is called ‘lobular carcinoma in situ’ (LCIS)...

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If diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer this will mean cancerous cells have formed a mass within the breast. Stage I is divided into two sub-stages: IA and IB.

In stage IA, the tumour is 2cm or smaller and the cancer has not spread outside the breast.

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In patients with stage 2A, either no tumour will be found in the breast or the tumour is smaller than 2cm.

Stage 2B may mean the tumour is between 2cm and 5cm in size, with small clusters of breast cancer cells have been found in the lymph nodes.

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Stage 3A: The tumour found is larger than 5cm and cancer has spread into up to three axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage 3B: The breast cancer tumour may be any size, with cancer cells found in the chest wall and/or nearby the skin of the breast, causing swelling or an ulcer.

Stage 3C: The breast cancer may have spread to the skin of the breast and caused swelling or an ulcer and/or spread to the chest wall.

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Our genes create a unique fingerprint for how our cells behave. They make proteins within our cells, and it is these proteins which influence both healthy or damaging cell activity.

If particular gene or protein functions mutate, this can cause cells to grow out of control. Through genetic screening, researchers can pinpoint the genes which make us susceptible to cancers...

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These genes are involved in producing proteins that repair and manage damaged DNA. If one of these genes isn’t functioning correctly, then our safeguards against uncontrolled cell growth are potentially failing.

Specific inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been shown to increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers.

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Between 20-25% of cancers have too much of the growth-promoting protein HER2 (also known as HER2/neu), which is produced by the HER2 gene.

HER2 proteins are receptors on breast cells which play a role in managing cell growth, division and repair. When there is an excess of HER2 proteins in the breast cells, the cells divide...

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Oestrogen (estrogen) and progesterone are hormones which play a role in the growth of breast cells.

Cancer cells may contain either, none, or both of these receptors and the presence of these receptors will help inform whether treatment...

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These cancers are classified by a lack of both oestrogen and progesterone receptors on the breast cancer cell, as well as a low number of HER2 proteins. They are more common in younger women and tend to grow and spread more quickly than other types of breast cancer.

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