Quick Guide to Breast Cancer

Whether you’re worried about developing breast cancer, have just been diagnosed, or are going through treatment, this detailed guide will help you find the answers you need.


What is breast cancer?


Breast cancer is a form of cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. It occurs when the cells in the breast mutate out of control and create a mass of tissue, also known as a tumour. Like other cancers, breast cancer can grow into the tissue surrounding the breasts, as well as other parts of the body and form new tumours. This is known as metastasis.

Although breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women, it can also affect men.

What are the different types of breast cancer?


There are a couple of different types of breast cancer. These include:

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Also known as stage 0 breast cancer, this type of breast cancer is considered precancerous and is very treatable. Prompt care should be taken to prevent the cancer from becoming invasive and spreading to other tissue.

Infiltrating ductal carcinoma

This type of breast cancer starts in the milk ducts of the breast and breaks through the wall of the duct and spreads to the surrounding tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

This is a precancerous condition that can indicate a potential for breast cancer later down the line. Women with lobular carcinoma in situ should have regular mammograms and clinical breast exams.

Infiltrating lobular carcinoma

Forming in the lobules of the breast and spreading to the surrounding breast tissue, this form of cancer accounts for 10% to 15% of breast cancers.

Triple negative breast cancer

One of the most difficult breast cancers to treat, TNBC does not have three of the markers associated with other types of breast cancer, making treatment and prognosis challenging. TNBC makes up for about 15% of all breast cancer cases.

Paget’s disease of the breast

This type of breast cancer affects the skin of the nipple and areola (the skin around the nipple)

Inflammatory breast cancer

This type of breast cancer is rare and aggressive and resembles an infection. Inflammatory breast cancer is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the skin.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

Breast cancer is diagnosed through recommended tests to check for breast abnormalities. These tests include:

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Breast MRI tests use radio waves and magnets to produce detailed images of the structures within the breast.


Mammograms can detect changes or abnormal growths in the breast via special X-ray images. Mammograms are most used in breast cancer prevention.


Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the tissue within the breast. This test is used to help diagnose abnormalities and breast lumps.

Myths & Facts about breast cancer

Below are some of the most common myths and facts surrounding breast cancer.

Myth #1: I am too young to get breast cancer

Many women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Myth #2: Men cannot get breast cancer

1 in 1249 men have a lifetime risk of breast cancer

Myth #3: Alcohol is not linked to breast cancer

Alcohol use increases the risk of breast cancer.

Myth #4: Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk

All women are at risk, but family history increases the risk.

Myth #5: I have never had children so I cannot get breast cancer

Women who have never had kids or only had them after 30 have increased risk of breast cancer.

Risk factors for breast cancer

Risk factors are anything that increases your chances of getting a disease. Here are the lifestyle-related breast cancer risk factors.

  • Birth control
  • Breast implants
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Not breastfeeding
  • Not having children
  • Not being physically active
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Menopausal hormone treatment


Breast cancer FAQs


Can I lower my risk of breast cancer?

Although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are things that you can do to lower your risk. These include:

  • Being physically active
  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol consumption


How is breast cancer treated?

To treat breast cancer, many women undergo surgery and may also receive treatment post-surgery, which will include:

  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy


What happens when I finish my breast cancer treatment

Once you have completed your breast cancer treatment, your doctor will provide you with a follow-up schedule which will likely include:

  • Doctor visits
  • Pelvic exams
  • Mammograms
  • Bone density tests
  • Other tests such as blood tests and imaging tests