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 abnormal growths are called tumors. Not all tumors are cancerous.
Non-cancerous tumors – benign
Cancerous tumors – malignant
If not treated the 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 next to lung cancer.
The incidence of breast cancer is very low in women in their twenties,
plateaus at 45 and the increase dramatically after fifty. Fifty
percent of breast cancer is diagnosed in women over sixty-five.
III) Risk factors
Early onset of menses/menstrual cycle prior to age 12
Diets high in saturated fats
Late or no pregnancies
Moderate alcohol intake
History of prior breast cancer
Estrogen replacement therapy
Therapeutic radiation to chest wall
**Every woman is at some risk for breast cancer (does not necessarily mean that just because it does not run in your family 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
IV) Symptoms/Early signs
A lump in or near your breast
A change in the size or shape of your breast
Veins on the surface become more prominent on one breast
Discharge from the nipple other than breast milk
Ridges or depression/pitting of the breast
A change in the way the breast feels
**The earlier breast cancer is found and diagnosed, the better your chances of beating it.
V) Breast cancer types
Ductal Carcinoma in-situ
Infiltrating Ductal – most common type
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
VI) Screening and testing
Brest self exam
Breast physical exam – help to find lumps that women may miss with their own
Mammogram – include 2 views of both breasts
detect calcifications, cysts and fibroadenomas
Ultrasound – sends high frequency sound waves through the breast and converts
them to images – complements other testing
MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging – uses magnetic fields, no radiation to create
images of the body – Not used for general screening
CAT – Computer Axial Tomography – x-ray technique in two-dimensional slices
Not for routine evaluations.
PET Scans – Positron Emission Tomography – patient is injected with a small
amount of radioactive material.
Biopsy – a small operation that removes tissue from an area of concern from the
body to get cells for microscope analysis.
Chest X-Ray – performed in those who have or ay have breast cancer to evaluate
the possibility that cancer may have spread to the lungs.
Bone Scan – to determine whether cancer has spread to any part of the bone
Blood Tests – there are several protein markers in the blood related to breast
VII) Stages of breast cancer
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.
Stage 0 – cancer is in the lining of a lobule or duct but not has spread elsewhere.
Stage I – Cancer has spread from the lobules or ducts to nearby breast tissue.
Stage II – fits the criteria of stage I but the tumor size is larger.
Stage III – divided into 2 categories
Stage IIIA – invasive breast cancer
Stage IIIB – invasive breast cancer
Stage IV – the cancer has spread to other organs in the body.
Recurrent cancer – the disease has come back in spite of initial treatment
Treatment options depend on a number of factors:
age, menopausal status, general health, size and location of tumor,
stage of the cancer, results of lab tests, size of breast
Surgery – today’s surgery is precise, targeted and aims to preserve as much
of the healthy breast and surrounding areas as possible.
– breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy)
Radiation Therapy – highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells
that may linger after surgery.
Chemotherapy – help to get rid of any cancer cells that may have spread from
where the cancer started to another part of the body.
Hormonal Therapy – drugs used to block the effects of hormones.
Herceptin – immune treatment for breast cancer.
There are many claims about alternative therapies that can help fight breast cancer
but there is little research to support many of these claims.
Survival rates are based mainly on the stage of the cancer.