Cancer is not just one disease but rather a group of diseases. All forms of cancer cause cells in the body to
change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a lump or mass called a tumor. Cells from the
tumor can break away and travel to other parts of the body. There they can continue to grow.
This spreading process
is called metastasis. When cancer spreads, it is still named after the part of the body where it started. For example, if
Breast Cancer Essay spreads to the lungs, it is still breast cancer, not lung cancer. Another word for cancerous is malignant.
So a cancerous tumor is called malignant. But not all tumors are cancer.
A tumor that is not cancer is called benign.
Benign tumors do not grow and spread the way cancer does. They are usually not a threat to life. A few cancers,
such as blood cancers (leukemia), do not form a tumor. Most kinds of cancer are named after the part of the body
where the cancer first starts. Breast cancer begins in the breast tissue.
This article refers only to breast cancer in
women. Men can also get breast cancer, although this is rare. Women.com, pp. 6
Inside the breasts are glands that produce and release milk after a woman has a baby. The glands that make
the milk are called lobules and the tubes that connect them to the nipple are called ducts.
The breast itself is made up
of lobules; ducts; and fatty, connective, and lymphatic tissue. There are several types of breast tumors. Most are
benign; that is, they are not cancer. These lumps are often caused by fibrocystic changes. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs,
and fibrosis refers to connective tissue or scar tissue formation. Fibrocystic changes can cause breast swelling and
The breasts may feel lumpy and sometimes there is a clear or slightly cloudy nipple discharge. Benign breast
tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast and they are not life-threatening.
Lawrence, pp. 54 Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, other than skin cancer. It is the second
leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. Many great doctors predicts that there will be
about 184,200 new cases of invasive breast cancer in the year 2000 among women in this country and about 41,200
deaths from the disease.
Breast cancer also occurs among men, although much less often. Death rates from breast
cancer declined significantly during 1992 to 1996, with the largest decrease in younger women– both white and
black. This decline is probably the result of better detection and improved treatment. We do not yet know exactly
what causes breast cancer, but we do know that certain risk factors are linked to the disease. A risk factor is
something that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease. Different cancers have different risk factors.
risk factors, such as smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed.
Lee, pp. 124 While all women are at risk for breast cancer, the factors listed below can increase the chances of
having the disease. Some studies suggest that long-term use (10 years or more) of estrogen replacement therapy,
sometimes called hormone replacement therapy, for relief of menopause symptoms may slightly increase the risk of
breast cancer. This risk applies only to current and recent users.
A woman’s breast cancer risk returns to that of the
general population within 5 years of stopping ERT. Replacement therapy also lowers the risk of heart attacks and
bone fractures; therefore, women should talk to their doctors about the pros and cons of using ERT. At this time,
there is no certain way to prevent breast cancer. For now, the best strategy is to reduce risk factors whenever
possible and follow the guidelines for finding breast cancer early. A personal or family history of breast cancer may
make genetic testing an option for some women. About 50%-60% of women with certain genetic changes
(mutations) will develop breast cancer by the age of 70.
They also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Genetic
testing can tell .