Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Breast cancer

Breast cancer image

What is breast cancer?

  • Breast cancer grows in the cells of the breast1

Types of breast cancer

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ is the earliest form of breast cancer; the cancer cells are found only in one specific area of the breast, the “ducts”, and have not yet spread to other breast tissue2
  • Invasive breast cancer has spread beyond the area in which it started into surrounding breast tissue;invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer2,3
  • Invasive lobular breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, and Paget disease of the breast are less common types of breast cancer3
  • Secondary or metastatic breast cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, usually via the lymph nodes or the bloodstream3

Who gets breast cancer?

  • Breast cancer is much more common in females, but males get it too;breast cancer in males is different to breast cancer in females4
  • About 1 in 8 females will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime3
  • It mostly affects females aged 50+,3 but also occurs in younger females5
  • It is the most common cancer in females worldwide, and is the 2nd most common cancer overall6
  • Nearly 1.7 million cases were diagnosed worldwide in 20126

Screening, detection, and diagnosis

  • Mammography can detect breast cancer early3
  • Ultrasound is used for further examination7
  • MRI might be used to aid diagnosis7
  • Diagnosis is confirmed by biopsy, either using a needle or during surgery7

Patient guidelines

A patient guideline is a document containing information for patients and their families about their disease and the treatment options available to them

Click here to see the European patient guideline on your condition8

Local support groups

Contacting a support group may help you during diagnosis and treatment and afterwards


Click here for information on the incidence of breast cancer in Europe10



  1. American Cancer Society. What is breast cancer? Accessed November 2015.
  2. Macmillan. Types Of breast cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  3. NHS Choices. Breast cancer (female). Accessed November 2015.
  4. American Cancer Society. What is breast cancer in men? Accessed November 2015.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Risk factors for breast cancer in young women. Accessed November 2015.
  6. World Cancer Research Fund International. Breast cancer statistics. Accessed November 2015.
  7. American Cancer Society. How is breast cancer diagnosed? Accessed November 2015.
  8. European Society for Medical Oncology. Breast cancer: a guide for patients. Accessed November 2015.
  9. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Breast cancer types. Accessed November 2015.
  10. World Health Organization. Estimated incidence, mortality & prevalence, 2012 Accessed November 2015.