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 pain.
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.
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 if
a woman has these mutated genes, but it cannot predict whether a woman will get
breast cancer. Genetic testing is expensive and is not covered by some health
plans. People with positive results might not be able to get insurance, or
coverage might only be available at a much higher cost. You need .