In 1995, 43,063 people died from breast cancer in the United States.
It is the second leading cause of cancer death and the most common cancer in females aged 15 to 54. On average, if a woman develops this disease, her life expectancy drops by nineteen and a half years. This cancer is among the top three cancers affecting all women over the age of 15 and accounts for 6% of all healthcare costs in the U.S., totaling an astounding $35 billion a year. An average woman is said to have a one in thirty chance of developing the cancer, but if she has a family history of the disease, her chances increase to one in six.
Sixty-nine percent of African American women survive breast cancer, and nearly two million new cases are predicted to be reported this year in the U.S. The disease is characterized by a group of rapidly reproducing, undifferentiated cells in the breast area of women. The earliest changes occur in the epithelial cells of the terminal end buds (TEB) of the breast milk ductal system.
While the steps of breast cancer development are not fully understood, the cells in the breast can trigger excessive cell reproduction, leading to the formation of cancerous cells and tumors. If these cells are malignant, the tumor can grow rapidly and potentially spread to other organs through a complex process called metastasis. This occurs when cancer cells break away from the primary tumor and travel through the blood or lymphatic system to other parts of the body. It is important for women to consult with their doctor about any unusual lumps or sensations in the chest, as tumors smaller than one centimeter may still be considered malignant.
One sign of breast cancer results from ductal cancer in the breast. A once hollow open tube could become completely clogged up with cancerous cells, thus leaving an awkward feeling in the chest area. Other complications that result from this cancer and others include the clogging and cramming of the system, as well as the body’s need to not only supply for itself but also for the large tumors. Recently, genes have been touted as a significant cause of cancer. It is now thought among the medical community that while there are definite environmental contributors to cancer, even those people who are exposed to few carcinogens may suffer from disease that runs in their families.
Among the genes being heavily researched is the gene BRCA1. In one preliminary detection of this gene, over 250 Jewish women were discovered to have mutations with this germline allele, accounting for approximately 13% of all observed breast cancer patients. Jewish women were specifically used because there was a definite pattern of breast cancer in the Jewish community, particularly those living in the United States. The specific mutation, 185delAG, was strongly associated with the onset of breast cancer in Jewish women before the age of 30. Scientists were excited about this new information on genealogical interplay, and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) set out to study the overall effects of these genes, not only along familial lines but also concerning the general population.
In an article printed on January 18, 1996, germline alterations in BRCA1 were discovered in six of the 80 women surveyed with breast cancer but had no apparent familial history of it. Thus, the scientists concluded that the mutation was not limited to women with a history of cancer. In an article printed in the Dallas Morning News, genes were cited as a cause of five to twenty percent of all breast cancer. The article mentioned a gene known as p53 that supposedly stalls reproduction and can even cause a cell to commit suicide.” Other genes that seem to accelerate growth and overtake and stick to proteins include HER2, neu, and erB2.
Ten years from now, you won’t go for a BRCA1 test,” said Dr. Shattuck Eidens of Salt Lake City. “You’ll go for a breast cancer predisposition test.” There is a relation between serum estrogen levels at a single time and the risk of breast cancer, but no evidence links estrogen levels over an extended time to the risk of breast cancer. This was proposed by researchers at the New England Journal of Medicine for a study.
Bone mass is a cumulative effect of estrogen on bones, according to scientists. The study focused on the density and mass of bone tissue in women. Four levels were accounted for.