Breast Cancer in Women In this essay I will be discussing breast cancer, a very serious issue that affects thousands of women each year. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women and is the second leading cause of death in women ages 35 to 54. The majority of breast cancer cases are sporadic, meaning there is no family history of the disease. Only 5% to 10% of women with breast cancer have a family history. Although there is no known cure for breast cancer, by educating yourself about this disease it can help you in early detection.
The first step in early detection is self breast exams. These exams should begin when a woman is 18 years old in order to learn what is normal and what is not in the breast. Other important steps in early detection are regular doctor’s exams and mammograms. A mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer. A woman should have a mammogram when she is 40 years old and then one every two years until she is 50. Once a woman turns 50 she should have a mammogram once a year because the chances of getting breast cancer greatly increases. In females, breasts are made up of lobules, ducts, and stoma.
Lobules are milk producing glands, ducts are the milk passages that connect to the nipple, and stoma is the fatty tissue that surrounds the duct and lobules. Cancer develops when cells become abnormal and start growing out of control, forming a tumor. A tumor can be benign which means it can damage tissue but doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. On the other hand, malignant tumors spread to other parts of the body damaging and destroying healthy tissue. There are many different types of cancer. Ductal carcinoma in situ has the lowest mortality rate.
It starts in the milk ducts and is treated before spreading to other breast tissue. This type of cancer is almost always curable. The most common type is called invasive ductal carcinoma. This cancer starts in the milk ducts of the breast, then it breaks through the duct and attacks the fatty part of the breast. This cancer accounts for up to 80% of all breast cancer. Another type is called invasive lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins in the lobules of the breast where the milk is produced, but it spreads to surrounding tissue or the rest of the body.
This cancer accounts for 10% of invasive breast cancers. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer are a lump in the breast, a change in the skin such as abnormal redness or swelling, a change in the nipple, bloody discharge from the nipple and an enlarged lymph node under the arm. When recognizing these signs, it is critical to see a doctor so he/she can give you a breast exam, mammogram, or an ultrasound. Based on those tests results, your doctor may request that you have a biopsy done to obtain a sample of the breast tissue or mass.
If the test finds evidence of breast cancer, the kind of treatment will depend upon the size and location of the disease. A treatment of the disease depends on the type of tumor and how far it has spread in the lymph glands or other organs in the body. Treatment can be local or systemic. Local treatments such as surgery and radiation are used to remove, destroy or control the cancer cells in a specific area in the breast. Systemic treatments such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body.
Depending upon what the doctor finds, you may have to have one form of treatment or a combination of both. Another option is a mastectomy; where one or both breasts are removed. A mastectomy may be necessary if there is more than one lump in the breast, if the cancer is directly underneath the nipple, if the patient had a previous lumpectomy and the tissue around the cancer is abnormal or if the cancer is too large to remove from the breast to still look normal. Also, some patients that have a larger but operable breast cancer can use medicine.
There’s a treatment call adjuvant that uses medicine to attack cancer cells including the ones that have spread. Using this treatment can kill these cells or prevent them from growing for many months and/or years with or without radiation. For many women breasts are a visual symbol of femininity, a focal point of sexuality, and a proud source of nurturing new life. Developing breast cancer can be traumatic not only for a woman’s health but for her self-esteem. That is why it is so important for women to be educated on the early detection signs in order to diagnose the cancer early and minimize any negative effects it may have.
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