Breast Cancer Essay
I. Anatomy of the breast:
The breast is a gland designed to make milk.
II. What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. These growths are called tumors. Not all tumors are cancerous.
Non-cancerous tumors are called benign, while cancerous tumors are called malignant. If left untreated, cancer may spread to other parts of the body. Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women and the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. The incidence of breast cancer is very low in women in their twenties, plateaus at 45, and increases dramatically after fifty. Fifty percent of breast cancer is diagnosed in women over sixty-five.
Risk factors for breast cancer include early onset of menses/menstrual cycle prior to age 12, menopause, diets high in saturated fats, family history, late or no pregnancies, moderate alcohol intake, smoking, history of prior breast cancer, estrogen replacement therapy, therapeutic radiation to chest wall, gene mutations, moderate obesity, and being female. Every woman is at some risk for breast cancer, and having a negative family history does not necessarily mean that you will not develop breast cancer. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 85% of women with breast cancer have a negative family history.
Symptoms/Early signs of breast cancer include a lump in or near your breast, a change in the size or shape of your breast, veins on the surface becoming more prominent on one breast, discharge from the nipple other than breast milk, breast tenderness, ridges or depression/pitting of the breast, and a change in the way the breast feels. The earlier breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it.
There are several types of breast cancer, including Ductal Carcinoma in-situ, Infiltrating Ductal (the most common type), Medullary Carcinoma, Infiltrating Lobular, Tubular Carcinoma, Mucinous Carcinoma, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
Screening and testing for breast cancer includes breast self-exam, breast physical exam, mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, CAT, PET Scans, biopsy, chest X-Ray, bone scan, and blood tests.
Breast cancer grows in stages, with each stage being a more advanced form of the disease. The stages range from 0 to IV depending on which parts of the breast are affected. Treatment options depend on a number of factors, including age, menopausal status, general health, size and location of tumor, stage of the cancer, results of lab tests, and size of breast. Treatment options include surgery (breast conserving surgery or mastectomy), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and Herceptin.
Survival rates for breast cancer are based mainly on the stage of the cancer. While there are many claims about alternative therapies that can help fight breast cancer, there is little research to support many of these claims.