Normally cells in our bodies grow and divide in a controlled way, but sometimes this process gets out of control. Cancer is the name for a group of diseases that develop when the body’s cells grow in an uncontrolled way and spread into the body’s tissues.
When cancer spreads into the body’s tissues, it is called invasive cancer. The site where cancer starts is called the primary cancer. Cancer that starts in the breast is called breast cancer. It can develop at any age.
Breasts are made up of small sacs and tubes called “lobules” and “ducts” surrounded by other tissues. The lobules produce breast milk, and the ducts carry the milk to the nipple (shown in the image).
All women and men have breast tissue, although the ducts and lobules essentially have no function in men.
Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of cells lining the breast ducts and lobules. The cells grow uncontrollably and over time, can spread into surrounding breast tissue. This is called "invasive breast cancer". It has the potential to spread to other parts of the body.
While breast cancer is most common in women, it also affects a small number of men each year.
Breast cancer is not one disease. There are different types and subtypes of disease that are referred to as breast cancer.
Therefore, the treatment you receive for your breast cancer may be quite different from the treatment other people you meet have. Read more about the types of breast cancer.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and support that may be available for you and your family.
Find resources created with and for those who identify as LGBTIQ+ and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, at all stages of treatment
Resources for Indigenous women diagnosed with breast cancer, including stories from other First Nations women about treatments and support
Tips to ensure people in same-sex relationships have access to the right health professionals and support following a diagnosis
Let’s be Upfront about the extra challenges and different needs of LGBTIQ+ people when diagnosed with breast cancer.
Let’s be upfront about LGBTIQ+ communities that are affected by breast cancer.
Understand the main medical terms and acronyms you may find when you are living with a breast cancer diagnosis or going through treatment
Let’s be Upfront about navigating a breast cancer diagnosis as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
*This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.