Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Metastatic Breast Cancer Underlying Cause

The cause of breast cancer is unknown, but genetics may play a role.

Genes control the functions inside a cell. Special genes control how cells divide and grow. In cancer cells, these genes are damaged. Cancer occurs when the damaged genes stimulate the cell to multiply out of control. The exact cause for this damage is unknown. Damaged genes can be inherited: the risk of cancer is higher if other family members have had cancer.


  • DNA
  • Genes on chromosomes
  • Cancer cells
  • Cancer cell division

Cancer cells can develop from any tissues inside the breast: mild glands, mild ducts, fatty tissue or nipple. The cells can spread through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. Breast cancer spreads most commonly to the bones, lungs, brain and liver.


Continue to Metastatic Breast Cancer Types

Last Updated: Aug 7, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Metastatic Breast Cancer References
  1. Aiello EJ, Buist DS, White E, Seger D, Taplin SH. Rate of breast cancer diagnoses among postmenopausal women with self-reported breast symptoms. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2004 Nov-Dec;17(6):408-15. [15575032]
  2. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer: Breast cancer and hormone replacement therapy: collaborative reanalysis of data from 51 epidemiological studies of 52,705 women with breast cancer and 108,411 women without breast cancer. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Lancet 1997 Oct 11; 350(9084): 1047-59. [10213546]
  3. Giordano SH. A review of the diagnosis and management of male breast cancer. Oncologist. 2005 Aug;10(7):471-9. [16079314]
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