Breast cancer is a cancer that starts in the cells of the breast in women and men. Worldwide, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer after lung cancer (10.4% of all cancer incidence, both sexes counted) and the fifth most common cause of cancer death. In 2004, breast cancer caused 519,000 deaths worldwide (7% of cancer deaths; almost 1% of all deaths).
Breast cancer is about 100 times as frequent among women as among men, but survival rates are equal in both sexes.
Occasionally, breast cancer presents as metastatic disease, that is, cancer that has spread beyond the original organ. Metastatic breast cancer will cause symptoms that depend on the location of metastasis. Common sites of metastasis include bone, liver, lung and brain. Unexplained weight loss can occasionally herald an occult breast cancer, as can symptoms of fevers or chills. Bone or joint pains can sometimes be manifestations of metastatic breast cancer, as can jaundice or neurological symptoms. These symptoms are "non-specific", meaning they can also be manifestations of many other illnesses.
Most symptoms of breast disorder do not turn out to represent underlying breast cancer. Benign breast diseases such as mastitis and fibroadenoma of the breast are more common causes of breast disorder symptoms. The appearance of a new symptom should be taken seriously by both patients and their doctors, because of the possibility of an underlying breast cancer at almost any age.