Rhode Island Hospital
Providence, RI 02903
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The Miriam Hospital
164 Summit Avenue
Providence, RI 02906
Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in the cells of the breast. It develops in the breast tissue, which has many parts. Milk-producing glands connect to the nipple through narrow ducts, which are supported by fat and fibrous material, or connective tissue. The rest of the breast tissue is made up of blood vessels, nerves and channels to the lymph nodes.
Cancer cells most commonly form in the milk glands and ducts of the breast. When several cancer cells accumulate, they form a mass of tissue known as a lump, growth or tumor. Tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Are rarely life-threatening
Can be removed and typically don't grow back
Don't invade surrounding tissue
Don't spread throughout the body
May be life-threatening
Many times can be removed, but can grow back
Can invade and harm surrounding tissue and organs
Can spread throughout the body
While not common, benign growths can become premalignant. If you feel a lump, have it examined by your doctor.
As with any cancer, cells can break from the original tumor and spread to other areas of the body. The spreading of cancer cells is known as metastasis.