Breast Cancer 101

Over the past decades, breast cancer information has become more informative and accessible for those who have questions about the disease. Susan G. Komen is an evidence-based organization that strives to produce relevant and accurate breast health and breast cancer information for those in need of it.

What is breast cancer? 

Breast cancer forms when cells in the breast divide and grow without normal control.

BC Cells

These cells can form what is commonly know as a tumor,  lump, or mass. There two types of tumors that can form in the breast:

Benign Tumor: Non-cancerous

Malignant Tumor: Cancerous

Why is breast cancer known as a “family of diseases”?

Breast cancer is not a single disease. There are many different types of breast cancer. Some breast cancer subtypes include:

Who gets breast cancer? 

Breast cancer not only impacts those diagnosed with the disease, but it also affects family members, friends, and even coworkers.

1 in 8 women and 1 in 100 men will be diagnosed in their life time. Breast cancer can impact racial and ethnic groups differently. Caucasian/White women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer followed by African American/Black women and Hispanic/Latino women.

For more information on race and ethnicity breast cancer rates, click here.

What are breast cancer risk factors?

Some factors can increase your risk while other factors can decrease your risk. A breast cancer risk factor can help you determine your chances of developing breast cancer. Researchers have discovered many risk factors that can increase breast cancer risk, however, there are still many risk factors that remain unknown. To learn more about breast cancer risk, click here.

How is breast cancer diagnosed? 

Early detection is an important part in surviving breast cancer. Breast cancer can be diagnosed by having a mammogram, breast ultrasound, and/or breast MRI.

If a patient has an abnormal x-ray or ultrasound, a biopsy will be done to remove a small amount of breast tissue. This tissue sample will be studied for signs of cancer.

To learn more about diagnosing breast cancer, click here.

What is breast density?

Breast are made up of fat tissue, breast tissue and connective tissue along with nerves, veins, and arteries. Measuring breast density will determine how much breast and connective tissue is in the breast compared to fat tissue. Women with high breast density are more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low breast density.

  • High breast density means there is a greater amount of breast and connective tissue compared to fat.
  • Low breast density means there is a greater amount of fat compared to breast and connective tissue.

Dense breast appear white on a mammogram which c. If you receive annual mammograms and would like to know if you have dense breast, speak with your physician to understand your breast density and breast cancer risk.

To learn more about breast density, click here.

Can I prevent breast cancer? 

No. Breast cancer can not be prevented. You can take action to lower your breast cancer risk. One way to understand your breast cancer risk and remain or gain control of your health is to become familiar with our breast self-awareness messages.

Breast Self- Awareness Messages: 

  1. Know your risk
  2. Get screened
  3. Know what is normal for you
  4. Make health lifestyle choices 

Related Topics

Breast Cancer Glossary

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer in Men

Susan G. Komen Website  

For more information about breast health/breast cancer or local resources, please contact us at 704-347-8181 or at

For a speaker, education materials, or an outreach request, click here