Overview of the epidemiology, risk factors, clinical features, diagnostics and prevention of breast cancer

Vaiva Cechanovičiūtė1, Inga Cechanovičienė2

1 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania

2 Ministry of Health of The Republic of Lithuania, Specialized Health Care Division, Vilnius, Lithuania


Background. Breast cancer is an uncontrolled, malignant growth of the breast tissue, which generally occurs among middle-aged women. It became the most commonly diagnosed malignancy worldwide in 2020. Malignancy may lead to detrimental outcomes, therefore a proper insight into the risk factors, clinical manifestation, diagnostics, and prevention is crucial.

Aim. To analyze the literature presenting epidemiology, risk factors, clinical manifestation, diagnostic methods, and prevention of breast cancer.

Materials and methods. The search of the literature was conducted in PubMed and Google Scholar. Publications were selected using the following keywords: “Breast cancer”, “Epidemiology”, “Risk factors”, “Clinical manifestation”, “Diagnostics”, “Prevention”. A total of 33 articles published from 2013 to 2021 were reviewed.

Results. Breast cancer tends to occur in women older than 40 years and the occurrence increases with age. Well-established risk factors may be described as nonmodifiable, reproductive, and lifestyle-related. Malignancy is often asymptomatic in the early stages. The localized symptomatic lesion usually occurs as a palpable mass with skin changes. Axillary lymphadenopathy indicates that a locally spread disease is already present. Metastases mostly affect bones, brain, lungs, and liver, therefore symptoms may develop accordingly. Combined diagnostic consists of physical examination and imaging with the following­ ultrasound-guided core biopsy which is the gold standard for confirming a diagnosis. Prevention is based on the avoidance of risk factors or early detection by screening programs.

Conclusions. After analysis of the literature, epidemiology, well-established risk factors, symptoms, diagnostics, and prevention of breast cancer is presented.

Keywords: breast cancer, epidemiology, risk factors, diagnostics, prevention.