- a malignant tumour of the breast, usually a carcinoma, rarely a sarcoma. It is unusual in men but is the commonest form of cancer in women, in some cases involving both breasts. Despite extensive research the cause is not yet known, but approximately 5% of cases appear to have a familial link.The classic sign is a lump in the breast, usually painless; bleeding or discharge from the nipple may occur infrequently. Sometimes the first thing to be noticed is a lump in the axilla (armpit), which is due to spread of the cancer to the drainage lymph nodes. The tumour may also spread to the bones, lungs, and liver. Current treatment of a localized tumour is usually by surgery (see lumpectomy, mastectomy), with or without radiotherapy; cytotoxic drugs and hormone therapy are used as adjuvant therapy and for widespread (metastatic) disease. tamoxifen is the hormonal treatment of choice for breast cancer in postmenopausal women with metastatic disease; it is also increasingly used as a first-line treatment for premenopausal women.
Medical dictionary. 2011.
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