Revision 7 for 'Breast cancer (summary)'

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Breast cancer (summary)

Breast cancer is the commonest malignancy in female patients.

Reference article

This is a summary article; read more in our article on breast cancer.


  • epidemiology
    • [content pending]
  • presentation
    • breast lump
    • change in breast shape or skin
    • axillary lymph node enlargement or breathlessness (metastases)
  • pathophysiology
    • risk factors
      • modifiable: smoking, hormonal birth control
      • genetic: 5-10% of cases (BRCA1 and BRCA2 90%, p53, PTEN, STK11)
    • classification
      • histology (ductal, lobular)
      • grade (low, intermediate, high)
      • stage (TNM)
      • receptor status (ER, PR)
      • DNA assays
  • investigation
    • mammogram (older) and ultrasound (younger)
    • breast MRI for challenging cases
    • US/mammogram guided biopsy
  • treatment
    • [content pending]

Role of imaging

  • population screening using mammography
    • 45/50 - 70/75 (depending on country)
  • making a diagnosis in symptomatic patients
  • staging the disease
  • assessing response to treatment

Radiographic features


Mammography is used for breast screening and is more useful in older patients. It is less useful in younger patients who tend to have denser breast tissue.


Useful in the context of a symptomatic patient. Can be used to make a diagnosis and also to guide biopsy.

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