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Breast cancer is a malignant, metastasizing cancer of the mammary gland.

It is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 45, but it is most common in women over age 50. Approximately 39,600 deaths will occur in the United States from breast cancer in 2002, and approximately 203,500 new cases will be reported. An estimated 12 percent of women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, and the rate is steadily rising. The incidence is highest among CaucasianAmericans, somewhat lower in African Americans, and lowest in AsianAmericans and American Indians. Notable risk factors include (1) a family history of breast cancer, (2) a first pregnancy after age 30, and (3) early menarche (first menstrual period) or late menopause (last menstrual period). Breast cancers in males are very rare, but about 400 men die from the disease each year in the United States. Despite repeated studies, no links have been proven between breast cancer and oral contraceptive use, estrogen therapy, fat consumption, or alcohol use. It appears likely that multiple factors are involved. Hormones and the Female Reproductive Cycle hormonal control that involves an interplay between secretions of both the pituitary gland and the gonads. But the regulatory pattern in females is much more complicated than in males, because it must coordinate the ovarian and uterine cycles. Circulating hormones control the female reproductive cycle , coordinating the ovarian and uterine cycles to ensure proper reproductive function. If the two cycles cannot be coordinated in a normal manner, infertility results. A woman who fails to ovulate cannot conceive, even if her uterus is perfectly normal. A woman who ovulates normally, but whose uterus is not ready to support an embryo, will be just as infertile.