Is It True that Breast Cancer Takes Years to Develop?

Question: Is it true that it takes years for breast cancer to develop?

Answer: We believe that most breast cancers take from 6-8 years to become big enough to be able to be seen on a mammogram or felt. So they've been there a long time by the time we've diagnosed them, and at some point fairly early on, they develop the ability to break out of the breast and get into the rest of the body.

So when somebody is newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the things we have to figure out is not just whether it's cancer, but what is the statistical chance that there might be cells somewhere else because if there are, we want to not just treat the breast, but also the rest of the body, with drugs like chemotherapy.

Next: What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Breast Cancer?

Previous: Where In the Breast Does Cancer Usually Occur?

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