Breast cancer occurs when cells of the breast grow in an unrestrained or abnormal manner, increasing both in size and in number. Cancer cells can interfere with the normal function of the breast and can also spread to other parts of the body.
With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women; about one in eight will have a diagnosis of breast cancer. Every year, more than 210,000 women will be diagnosed according to the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society. Carcinoma in-situ, the earliest form of breast cancer (sometime called “pre-cancer”) will affect nearly 60,000 additional women in the United States each year.
There is some good news, however. Recent data show:
There are presently about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Improved survival is likely the result both of early diagnosis and of advances in available treatment.
Almost every women who will, or has already undergone a mastectomy is potentially a candidate for breast reconstruction surgery. In fact, a number of states, including New York State, have recently enacted laws that require hospitals to inform breast cancer patients about breast reconstruction options. Each method of reconstruction has its own benefits and risks and not every method will appeal to every woman (if any appeal at all). Understanding the options for breast reconstruction can help you feel more secure as you make important decisions about the kind of care and treatment that will be best for you.