In the United States alone, an estimated 252,710 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, the ACS notes. (It does occur in men, too, though at much lower rates: About 2,620 men are expected to develop the disease in 2020, according to the ACS.)
A number of factors increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer, including age, family history, or inherited changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Still, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, having a risk factor doesn’t automatically mean a woman will get breast cancer, and conversely, some women will get the disease without being aware of any additional risk factors.
According to the ACS, there are currently more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, including women who are undergoing treatment and those who have completed it. Given the statistics, it’s no wonder that some of those diagnosed will be celebrities. Many famous people cope by using their star status to raise awareness of the disease and share their stories so that others with breast cancer will know they are not alone.
There are several types of breast cancer, and different kinds have affected these celebrities. The type and the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed determine the prognosis. The most frequently occurring types, as outlined by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, are ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, and invasive lobular carcinoma.
Ductal carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer, begins in the cells of the milk ducts in the breast. When abnormal cells are found in the lining of the ducts but haven’t yet spread, it’s called ductal carcinoma in situ, which is a noninvasive or preinvasive cancer. When the abnormal cells break through the walls of the duct and spread to surrounding tissue, the cancer is called invasive or infiltrating breast cancer.
Invasive lobular carcinoma originates in the milk-producing glands (or lobules) of the breast. Like ductal carcinoma, it can metastasize and spread to other parts of the body. There are several other kinds of breast cancer that are more rare, including inflammatory breast cancer, which accounts for 1 to 3 percent of all breast cancer.