Breast cancer


“Your mammogram is suspicious for breast cancer.” “Your biopsy was positive for breast cancer.” These are among the most terrifying words a woman can hear from her doctor. Breast cancer elicits so many fears, including those relating to surgery, death, loss of body image, and loss of sexuality. Managing these fears can be facilitated by information and knowledge so that each woman can make the best decisions concerning her care. Optimally, these issues are best discussed with the patient’s doctor on an individual basis. What follows is a review of information on breast cancer intended to aid patients and their families in their navigation through the vast ocean of breast cancer issues.

Types of Breast Cancer

What kind of breast cancer do I have?

Learn about the types of breast cancer.Breast cancer is not a single disease. There are many types of breast cancer, and they may have vastly different implications. Breast cancers range from localized cancers such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive cancers that can rapidly spread (metastasize). In the middle of the spectrum are breast cancers, such as colloid carcinomas and papillary carcinomas, which have a much more favorable outlook (prognosis) than the other more typically invasive breast cancers. Sometimes, noninvasive DCIS is found around invasive breast cancers.

Get the facts on breast cancer »

I may have breast cancer, what questions should I ask my doctor?

If you have received a positive or possible diagnosis of breast cancer, there are a number of questions that you can ask your doctor. The answers you receive to these questions should give you a better understanding of your specific diagnosis and the corresponding treatment. It is usually helpful to write your questions down before you meet with your health-care provider. This gives you the opportunity to ask all your questions in an organized fashion.

Each question is followed by a brief explanation as to why that particular question is important. We will not attempt to answer these questions in detail here because each individual case is just that, individual. This outline is designed to provide a framework to help you and your family make certain that most of the important questions in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment have been addressed. As cancer treatments are constantly evolving, specific recommendations and treatments might change and you should always confer with your treatment team regarding any questions. You obviously should add your own questions and concerns to these when you have a discussion with your doctor.


Prostate cancer

What is the prostate gland?

The prostate gland is an organ that is located at the base or outlet (neck) of the urinary bladder. (See the diagram that follows.) The gland surrounds the first part of the urethra. The urethra is the passage through which urine drains from the bladder to exit from the penis. One function of the prostate gland is to help control urination by pressing directly against the part of the urethra that it surrounds. The main function of the prostate gland is to produce some of the substances that are found in normal semen, such as minerals and sugar. Semen is the fluid that transports the sperm to assist with reproduction. A man can manage quite well, however, without his prostate gland. (See the section on surgical treatment for prostate cancer.)

In a young man, the normal prostate gland is the size of a walnut (<30g). During normal aging, however, the gland usually grows larger. This hormone-related enlargement with aging is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), but this condition is not associated with prostate cancer. Both BPH and prostate cancer, however, can cause similar problems in older men. For example, an enlarged prostate gland can squeeze or impinge on the outlet of the bladder or the urethra, leading to difficulty with urination. The resulting symptoms commonly include slowing of the urinary stream and urinating more frequently, particularly at night. Patients should seek medical advice from their urologist or primary-care physician if these symptoms are present.

Picture of the prostate gland

What is lung cancer?


What is lung cancer?


Lung cancer starts in the cells of the lung. The lungs are in the chest, one on each side of the heart. The right lung has three main parts, called lobes. The left lung is a bit smaller and has two lobes. The lungs are cushioned and protected by a thin covering called the pleura. The pleura has two layers of tissue: one layer covers the lungs and the other lines the inside wall of the chest. There is a small amount of fluid (pleural fluid) between the two layers of the pleura.


You use your lungs when you breathe. The air you take in through your nose or mouth flows down the trachea (windpipe). The trachea divides into two tubes called the left and right bronchi, which carry air to each lung. Once inside the lung, the bronchi divide into smaller and smaller tubes called bronchioles. Each bronchiole ends in a cluster of tiny air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli take oxygen from the air you breathe in and pass it into the blood for circulation to all parts of your body. The alveoli also remove carbon dioxide from the blood, which is pushed out of the lungs when you exhale.


There are two main types of lung cancer:


  • Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. It grows more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) grows quickly and often spreads to distant parts of the body.


Because each type of lung cancer behaves quite differently, they are treated differently.


Diagram showing lungs, larynx, bronchi, trachea, bronchiole, alveoli


A rare type of cancer called pleural mesothelioma is often mistakenly called a lung cancer. But pleural mesothelioma starts in the lining of the lung and is very different from cancer that starts in the lung. For information about pleural mesothelioma, contact our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Basics

Skin Cancer Information

When Cancer Strikes the Skin

The exact cause of skin cancer is unknown, but early detection and lifestyle changes can help people live longer, healthier lives. Protect yourself with the information on the following pages — starting with an overview of the three different types of skin cancer. Learn more about the different types of skin cancer and how they can affect your health.

Skin Cancer on the Rise

Skin Cancer on the Rise

Despite increased awareness, the rates of skin cancer diagnosis continue to go up.