In the United States this year 180,200 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 43,900 women will die from the disease (Glazer 555). Breast cancer affects more American women than any other type of cancer (All 1). Breast cancer is one of the top three cancers of all women above the age of 15; therefore, women need to commit themselves and watch for signs of cancer, or we will always have a problem with this life-threatening disease.
Breast cancer needs to be explained before you can fully understand the disease.
Breast cancer is a group of cells that have proliferated outside the framework of the normal growth pattern.
Normally, healthy cells interact together in a coordinated fashion t o assemble themselves into tissues and organs. Thought the lifetime of an organism, healthy cells live for a time, die and are replaced by new healthy cells according to instructions from the DNA, which is comprised of thousands of genes and is located in the nucleus of all cells. If the gene or genes responsible for forming particular cells is damaged or faulty in some way, then the incredibly precise process of cell growth and division spins out of control and cancer cells arise instead of healthy ones. As these cells rapidly proliferate, they pay little attention to the healthy cells. In this way the cancer cells form tumors. (Davies 26)
Hereditary breast cancer can only account for five percent of breast cancer cases (Glazer 570).
Well known risk factors include family history of cancer, DNA, high levels of estrogen, having an abortion, and diet.
At the most basic level, scientists agree that breast cancer is a genetic disease. Recently genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been thought as a cause of cancer. The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been heavily researched and are now linked with the breast cancer disease. A defect in either the BRCA1 gene or the BRCA2 gene presents the development of breast cancer. Mutations in BRCA1 may account for at least 80 percent of the families with inherited breast cancer (DeFazio 1).
According to a study, a woman who receives a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene has a 56 percent chance of developing breast cancer (571). Stratton (Institute of Cancer Research, UK) described the risk profile of BRCA2 as being similar to the BRCA1 gene. Both the BRCA1 and the BRCA2 genes have more than 100 distinct mutations, with the ratio of breast cancer depending on the site of the mutation (DeFazio 1). Even thorough there are over 100 mutations, the same mutations have been found in different women, but they behave differently depending on the woman (Glazer 572).
Hormone imbalance is an important factor in promoting breast cancer. The hormones that promote breast cancer are increased levels of estrogen and progesterone (Davies 29).
A 1995 study found that women that had high levels of estrogen or progesterone had a high incidence of breast cancer (Glazer 559). Lesbians and nuns are in the highest risk of getting breast cancer. The cause of this is because they usually never have children and their estrogen levels stay high during their lifetime (Davies 31).
Dr. Susan Love, a breast surgeon, has begun a counter campaign to stop doctors giving women hormones after menopause. She is worried that the increase risk of breast cancer is greater than the studies that show the hormones reduce the risk of heart disease (Glazer 559).
A study published in June 1997 found that the chance of dying was 37 percent lower among women who did not use hormones. The study also found a 43 percent increase in deaths from breast cancer in women who used hormones for 10 or more years (558).
Research so far has also lead to believe that the risk of breast cancer following an abortion is greater than that of women that had never been pregnant at all. A study found that the risk of breast cancer among women who had an abortion was 20 percent greater than those who had gone through their full term pregnancy. The study also found that the risk went to 40 percent for those women that had induced abortions than women who had never .