The most common symptom of breast cancer, and how many women are alerted to the disease

Breast cancer is caused by cells in the breast growing abnormally and quickly, forming a tumor. The two main forms of breast cancer are ductal carcinoma, which begins in the mild ducts of the breast, and lobular carcinoma, which originates in the milk-producing glands. While these are the two main types, breast cancer can originate in other parts of the breast as well, though less commonly.

The most common symptom of breast cancer, and how many women are alerted to the disease, is a hard, painless lump in the armpit or breast. Other early symptoms of breast cancer can include fluid coming from a single nipple, whether bloody, made of puss, or yellow or green, or a change in the color, shape, size, feel of the breast. Advanced symptoms of breast cancer can include skin ulcers, breast pain, swelling of the arm next to the infected breast, bone pain, and weight loss.

Treatment for breast cancer, which can be either systemic or local, varies but may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, and surgery including a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. Survival rates are quite varied and are mostly dependent upon the stage of breast cancer when diagnosed, and treatment methods.

There is no known cause for breast cancer, though two major risks are known: being female and having a history of breast cancer in one's family. Nearly 30 percent of women who get breast cancer have it in their immediate family. Men also get breast cancer, though about 100 times less frequently than women. The United States has more breast cancer cases than anywhere in the world.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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