Information on Breast Cancer and Advice on Dealing with the Condition
An Overview of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women and the fifth most common cause of death caused by cancer after lung cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, and colon cancer. Every single year, it accounts for 1% of the deaths that occur in the world. For example, in 2005, 502,000 people died as a consequence of breast cancer. This represents 7% of the deaths caused by cancer.
For women in the United States, it is the second biggest cancer killer, after lung cancer, and it affects one in eight women. One in thirty three women in the United States will die from breast cancer. Unfortunately, these numbers are increasing.
Breast Cancer Rates are on the increase
Ever since the 1970s, the number of breast cancer cases has begun steadily increasing. The belief, according to doctors, is that the lifestyle of women in the western part of the world is to blame. However, lifestyle is not the only cause, and other causes could simply be environmental. Doctors are not exactly sure why the cells of the breast tissue begin to mutate and mitosis becomes irregular. All they do know is that since the 1970s, rates have began to increase steadily.
Common causes of Breast Cancer
Some of the causes that doctors do believe cause breast cancer are: hereditary (genetics), age, gender (male or female), diet, alcohol consumption, and obesity.
There is a simple saying that quotes: if you are healthy, you will be healthy. Alcohol is bad for the body and can cause damage to the cells. Cause too much damage to a cell and it can become mutated which could lead to a growth of some sort, or a tumor. Obesity also plays a part in it, research has shown that a woman that gained 22lbs after entering menopause increased her chances of getting breast cancer by eighteen percent. It has been found that smoking can cause breast cancer; as can radiation to the chest; and hormones.
If things are changed around in the body and the levels of hormones in the body are altered, the body begins to change its methods of working. If a cells mitotic speed changes, it could become altered enough to mutate, which is the starting sign of a tumor.
The thing to remember about breast cancer that is commonly forgotten is that the tissue of the breast is identical whether it is a man or woman. Because of this, a man can have breast cancer; however, it is a lot less common in men.
Breast cancer can be found in men and women. It can kill both men and women. There are ways to lower your risks; however, anyone can get breast cancer, just like anyone can get any cancer. A cancer is simply a mutation of the cells, and if this is not controlled, it can cause death to the person.
Breast Cancer Causes - A look at what Causes Breast Cancer
The major causes of breast cancer are age and gender. As a woman gets older, her chances of getting breast cancer do increase. However, there are numerous other causes of breast cancer. Some of these are obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, hereditary, to name just a few. With all of these different things linked together, it is very difficult for women not to have to worry about cancer. However, there are some women that will never have cancer even though they are obese, smoke, consume alcohol and have the genetics for it. There are always other circumstances to be looked at.
Obesity and Breast Cancer
As stated before, it was found that a woman that gained twenty two pounds actually increase the likelihood of her getting breast cancer. Obesity becomes a hindrance on the body and the less it has to deal with, the more likely it’ll be strong enough not to get cancer. However, with obesity comes a healthy diet. The lack of grease foods and fast food and all of this greatly increases the strength and health of the body. Although there is no direct connection between fat and breast cancer, it is safe to safe no matter what, that reducing one’s weight can greatly decrease their chances of getting breast cancer.
Another thing that has been known to cause breast cancer is the hormones of the body. When a woman tries to get pregnant, her progesterone increases as well as estrogen. These are natural amounts. However, if there is an imbalance in the amount of hormones in the body, it can begin to have an effect on the woman’s breasts. Since the size of one’s breasts is connected to estrogen; if there is an increase, then the speed at which the cells reproduce could technically speed up. If they speed up too fast, they can mutate and this can lead to cancers cells which become tumors.
The most important to understand about a cancer is that it is a mutation. When someone smokes, they are causing damage to the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in the actual cell. So, the genes, in an effect, are getting messed up. The same occurs with obesity and imbalanced hormones and alcohol. All of this interferes with the DNA in the cell and that causes the alteration in the cell. There’s a reason they say that smoking causes cancer. The smoke damages the cells and when they reproduce, they’re not reproducing as a full cell. What is being reproduced is a damaged cell. As time goes on, this damaged cell continues to replicate and then becomes a completely different, warped, mutated cancer cell. And they multiple far faster than normal cells and that’s why a tumor is able to grow. To prevent getting breast cancer, just live healthier. Eat healthier, don’t drink in excess, and don’t smoke. But understand one thing. No matter how hard you try, it’s never your fault if you get breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
The problem with a cancer is that it can normally go unseen for a very long time. It’s not like a cold where you cough and the doctor can, while looking at your symptoms, understand what is wrong. Maybe you have pertussis; maybe you have influenza; the doctor can figure that out just by listening to your heart, your lungs, and coughing. However, with a cancer, it is a lot harder to tell whether you have a cancer or not because it does not appear. There is one tell tale sign, though, about whether you have a cancer or not. That is the term most people know as a tumor.
What is a tumor?
A tumor is an abnormal growth caused by an irregular mitotic time. That means that a cell should divide a certain amount of times in its ‘cycle.’ But, when it is cancerous, it divides a lot faster and a lot more. So, assuming a cell should only divide twice before it dies, a cancerous cell would divide ten or twenty times. And since the cell is abnormal as it is, they are able to reproduce far quicker than a normal breast cell. It is because of this, you commonly get what is called a tumor in your breast.
Definition of Malignant and Benign
Two more terms that might be said often are malignant and benign. A benign tumor is a tumor that is not cancerous. That means that it is just a growth of some kind, but it has not yet become cancerous. Not all benign tumors become malignant, but no matter what kind of tumor it is, it should always be quickly removed. A malignant tumor, though, is a cancerous tumor. It has the ability to go to nearby tissues and invade and destroy them too. The term, metastasize means that the cancer is able to spread between tissues. So, what starts as breast cancer can spread to the lungs and to the liver and soon, the body is overwhelmed.
The only real symptom of a cancer, therefore, is a tumor. A lump in the breast is one of the first clues for doctors that there is something growing that should not be. However, the downfall is that there are certain types of breast cancers that don’t produce these lumps. So, they are virtually impossible to be caught and cause a significant amount of the deaths caused by breast cancer. Naturally, if the symptoms of breast cancer are caught quickly, it can be destroyed; however, women make the mistake of not getting their mammograms when they should and the symptoms are allowed to grow.
Because of the few symptoms of a cancer, it is imperative for a woman to get tested often. If there is a tumor growing, it can usually be felt by checking the breast. If anything feels out of place, go to a doctor and they will recommend a mammogram as well as a biopsy. This will help to determine whether or not it is a tumor or not. Then they can test it and if it is malignant, they can prepare the body for whatever treatments need to occur.
Breast Cancer Screening
The first step to treating breast cancer is knowing that it is actually there. A doctor cannot give you chemotherapy unless he knows that there is a cancer. Therefore, one of the first things that happens is a screening. There are numerous different methods that a person can get a screening. The first and most basic is a self screening. Then there is a breast ultrasound. There’s the X-Ray Mammography (Mammogram). And finally, there is the breast MRI.
Self screening for breast lumps
The first is relatively basic. The self screening is where a woman can check her own breast and feel for any abnormalities. If she feels a lump of any kind in her breast that is not supposed to be there, she should make note to contact her doctor about it. The thing about this is that sometimes there are just growths. They come and they go. So, it’s not really the surest way to determine if its cancer or not. A self-screening should be used just to get an understanding; if it is believed there is something abnormal, another more advanced screening method will be used.
Breast Cancer Mammogram
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Basically what occurs is the x-ray machine takes photographs of the breasts. The tighter the machine is against the breast, the better the images will be. Once all the images have been taken, a doctor can sit down and look them over. If there are any unusual lumps in there, the doctor will let the patient know and more tests can therefore be done. Mammograms have been known to greatly reduce the number of people that die from breast cancer because it is a great early sign.
A breast MRI (magnetic reconvenes imaging) is another way for a doctor to determine if there is a tumor or not. Although it is more sensitive, its image quality is not as good. Therefore, a doctor can tell if there is a lump better with the MRI; however, he cannot determine any great detail about the tumor like he would be able to do if he were looking at a mammogram image. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
A breast ultrasound is not really used for breast screening. However, it is used as a tool to add to the mammogram. It helps doctors to characterize palpable tumors and it also directs image-guided biopsies. So, while its main function might not be the actual screening of a woman’s breast, its use is important for a further understanding of what exactly is going on in the breast and if there are, in fact, any growths occurring.
Getting screened is extremely important. It cannot be expressed enough how important early warning to a tumor is for a woman. If she can catch it soon enough, she can get it removed and hopefully battle it before the tough parts appear. The longer a tumor is allowed to stay in the body, the more damage it can do. That’s why it is imperative a woman get tested as often as she wants.
Male Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer isn’t just found in women. Men can also get breast cancer because the tissues between a man’s breast and a woman’s breast are identical. A woman just has more. Fortunately for men, it only makes up 1% of the total cases of breast cancer found each year, with cancer of the prostate being much more common in men. Another fortunate thing for men is that it is usually only found in men that are around sixty to seventy years old. Although it is unlikely for a man to get breast cancer, men have breast tissue that can undergo cancerous changes. Because of this, it is extremely important that a man go to the doctor if there are any changes to his breast tissue. A man may think nothing of it until it becomes too late.
Common symptoms of breast cancer in men
A few common symptoms of breast cancer in men are: a lump or swelling in the chest, dimpled skin, an inverted nipple, scaling or redness of the breast, and discharge from the nipple. These are some symptoms that doctors have found that male patients with breast cancer have. If any of these are symptoms found, it is important that a visit to the doctor takes place in an effort to try and catch the cancer before it becomes too big. Since it is such a small number, there are no real tests for men for breast cancer. Women get constant mammograms; however, men don’t need that because the number is so small. Because of this, self screening is the biggest method of diagnosing it.
The one thing, though, about male breast lumps is that they’re not usually caused by cancer. They’re actually caused by gynecomastia which is a male breast disorder (the worst) that actually increases the amount of breast tissue a man has. So technically speaking, gynecomastia increases the amount of breast a man has. Although this is a big cause of the lumps that men may find in their breast, if there is any lump found, it is highly recommended that a visit to the doctor be made. The saying is simple: better safe than sorry.
Treatments of male breast cancer
Since the tissue of the man and woman are the exact same thing, treatments are relatively similar. If the tumor is not that bad, a surgery can take place to successfully remove it. However, if it is bad, a mastectomy could take place which would result in a complete removal of the man’s breast. On top of this, if a man needs chemotherapy, he can get it because it will attack the cancer in his breast. Treatments are one in the same. Although men do not get it nearly as often as women, it is important, simply because of that 1%, to make sure that personal screenings happen. Just check your chest and feel for any lumps. If a lump is found, contact the doctor and set up an appointment. A medical professional will then be able to give the proper advice. That is the sure way to ensure that the cancer, if it is cancer, does not get out of control.
Breast Cancer Stages
Information on the different stages of breast cancer
There is a way that doctors determine how bad cancer is in the body. They use a stage system that ranges from stage 0 all the way to stage IV.
However, in between these two radically different stages, there are numerous different stages. For example, there is a stage IIIA and a stage IIIB. The thing to understand about these stages is that as time goes on and the stage gets higher and higher, the breast cancer is getting worse and worse. Because of this, it is important that it be caught at an early stage so that it can be battled rather than at a later stage where battle is far more difficult.
Non-invasive stage 0 breast cancer
Stage 0 is where there is no breakout of the cancer cells which means that it is not invading other tissue. This is non-invasive breast cancer. If it can be caught here, it is easily treated and there is little anyone needs to worry about. Stage I is where it begins to get a little more hectic. The breast cancer is now invasive which means it is invading other tissues around it. The tumor can be up to about two centimeters, but the lymph nodes are not currently involved. Stage III is where the lymph nodes have been affected; however, they have not stuck together yet. The tumor can be greater than two centimeters, but not more than five centimeters.
Invasive Stage IIIa Breast Cancer
Stage IIIA is where the tumor can be larger than five centimeters. It is an invasive breast cancer; however, the lymph nodes are not affected by the cancer. Stage IIIB is a little different. It is invasive and the cancer has spread to the breast skin, deeper into the breast and other parts of the breast. A type of Stage IIIB cancer is inflammatory breast cancer. This type of cancer is extremely aggressive and spreads extremely fast. It does damage to the breast fast and it is dangerous because there is only a lump half the time, so it is difficult to diagnose.
Stage IV Breast Cancer
Stage IV is the worst. This is where the tumor can be at any size and that the cancer has spread through the lymph nodes. Where they were first located at under the arm pit, the cancer now spread to other lymph nodes, now in the neck and then at other parts of the body, such as the brain, liver, lungs, etc. This is where the dangerous part of the cancer comes. It spreads to so many different parts of the body that it becomes a cancer there too. So, now the patient not only has a breast cancer, but the patient is developing lung cancer, liver cancer and other types of cancers.
Stage IV is extremely dangerous and extremely hard to treat. It is important that the breast cancer be caught before Stage IV because once the cancer begins to metastasize, treating it becomes a real difficult task.
Breast Cancer Treatment
If diagnosed with breast cancer, it is highly recommended that treatment is obtained. If left untreated, the cancer could metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) and this will lead to death. Fortunately, there are numerous ways for doctors to try and treat a breast cancer patient. Some of them are non-invasive which means that they don’t go into the body and others are invasive. However, no matter what type of treatment is recommended, it is highly advised that you do it. A cancer is a dangerous thing and if given time to grow more, it can cause serious damage and even death.
Simple surgery procedures
The majority of treatments of breast cancers are a simple surgery procedure where they remove the tumor. Since it is a tumor that is causing the cancer, the removal of the tumor could end the breast cancer indefinitely. However, it is extremely important that the surgeon, whoever he or she is, gets the entire tumor out. If the entire tumor is not removed, it will grow once again and the same predicament will repeat itself. Fortunately, if the entire lump can be removed, then the cancer can go into remission and it can end right there.
Treating breast cancer with radiation
Although the cancer can go away when the tumor is removed, sometimes it doesn’t. If there are still cancerous cells, the doctor can use radiation. This shoots gamma rays at an extremely targeted part of the body. Its purpose is to destroy the remaining cancerous cells in the body. Unfortunately, radiation also causes damage to the cells around the cancerous cells. Because of this, it is extremely important for the dosages to be very precise. The radiation destroys cancerous cells as well as normal tissues, so everything must be accurate.
It is highly recommended that a patient get radiation if a doctor cannot remove the microscopic cells that might be left over after the surgery. Even if a single cell is left over, that can lead to more cancerous cells. That is why doctors recommend getting radiation after the tumor has been removed. Although radiation is a good way to get rid of the cancerous cells, it does have its negative effects. It can cause muscle stiffness, reddening of the skin, and some swelling. However, no matter what the effects are on the body, nothing is worse than dying from a cancer, so it is highly recommended that a patient, after getting the tumor removed, go and get radiation to clean the area completely.
Breast cancer can cause death. And because of this unfortunate fact, it is highly recommended by health professionals that treatment follow a diagnosis. If a cancer is left in the body, it can only get worse. As time goes on, the tumor can continue to grow and if it gets too big, the entire breast might need to be removed. The moral of all of this is very simple: if a lump is found and the doctor recommends some form of treatment, it is highly recommended that the treatment is done.
Breast Cancer Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is another method of treatment for all sorts of cancers. Simply put, chemotherapy is a drug that is used by doctors in an attempt to destroy parts of the tumor or to reduce its size before surgery. It’s also been used after a surgery because doctors want the patient to ensure that there is no a reoccurrence of the cancer in the breast. It may be used before a surgery to reduce the size, after it to stop the occurrence, but above all, it can be used instead of surgery if the patient is unable to have a surgery for whatever reason. Since the chemotherapy is meant to target the cancer and destroy it, over time, the tumor might deteriorate.
Pre-treatment chemotherapy checks
One of the very important things that a doctor needs to do when treating a breast cancer patient with chemotherapy is determine the age, gender, and health of the person. There are numerous different types of regimens (types) of chemotherapy: CMF, FAC, AC, just to name a few. Because of this, the doctor needs to determine which type to give a breast cancer patient. One patient might do fine with CMF, but do horrible with FAC. Another patient might do fine with AC, but do horrible with FAC. It is the doctor’s job to determine which type of chemotherapy is best suited for the particular patient. And each patient is very different.
Cells targeted by chemotherapy
The thing about chemotherapy is that it does not just target the cancer cells. It has no ability to determine right from wrong. All the chemotherapy knows, in a sense, is that it needs to kill. That’s why chemotherapy patients tend to lose their hair. The chemotherapy targets the cells of the hair and the hair just falls out. Certain chemotherapies don’t do this, obviously, but a lot of them do. Another thing that the chemotherapy tends to target is the white blood cells. The white blood cells are what protect the body against infection. If there are not enough of them, the body can get an infection and even while fighting off the cancer, the patient could die. To combat against this, doctors tend to give some sort of a growth factor (e.g., pegfilgrastim) to the body so that it reduces the rate of infection and the deterioration of the leukocytes. Unfortunately, for as long as the chemotherapy is being used, there will be destruction of leukocytes.
If a patient has cancer and the doctor recommends chemotherapy, the patient should seriously consider it. The chemotherapy, while it can do damage to the body, can also do significant damage to the cancer in the body. And, sometimes, it is better to suffer from some uncomfortable side effects and to live rather than to try and battle the cancer without any chemotherapy and to potentially die. Chemotherapy is a great way to destroy cancer; however, patients need to know that it does come with side effects, such as an increase in sickness as well as hair loss. However, in the end, a body without cancer is a healthier body and that’s the important thing.
Breast Cancer Surgery
The main method of treatment for a cancerous lump in the breast is to have surgery. What this means is that they will take a part of the breast out that has become cancerous and then sew you back up. What is good about this is that the doctor can remove what is causing the problem and hope that it won’t grow back again. However, what needs to be remembered is that a part of the breast is being removed. That particular tissue of the breast mutated and that is why it is being removed. There are two terms that will be heard when discussing surgery for a breast cancer.
The first term is a lumpectomy. What that term means is that the doctor hopes to go in and remove only the lump. If the doctor can remove only the lump, the breast won’t really be affected. Fortunately for women, the number of lumpectomy surgeries has increased as methods for the surgery have gotten better over time. At one time, if there was a large enough tumor, there was really only one method of removal of the tumor. There wasn’t just a removal of the tumor. There was a complete removal of the breast.
A complete removal of the breast is called a mastectomy. If there are two or more tumors and they are on different parts of the breast, a doctor might decide to remove the breast rather than trying to get the two separate tumors out. Another reason that they might decide to remove the breast rather than go for a lumpectomy is because the tumor might have gotten so large that it is about the size of the breast. If the entire breast is a tumor, it would make more sense to just remove the entire breasts.
The important thing that a doctor must do when they are performing a breast surgery is to ensure that all of the cancerous areas are removed. That means that wherever there is a cancer in the vicinity of the breast, that tissue must be removed. Because of this, there have been cases where parts of the pectoral muscle have been removed. The pectoral muscle is the muscle that is behind the breast. For men, it is the firm part of the muscle where a breast might be, commonly worked out by push ups and the bench press.
The removal of any tumor is highly recommended. Once the doctor has determined that a growth is a tumor, the next thing that the woman should do is go in and determine whether removing it or not is important. The removal of the tumor can potentially aid in the prevention of the spread of the cancer. However, anything can happen and if the tumor gets out of control, the entire breast might have to be removed. The best bet is to get checked often and a mastectomy might not have to occur. However, if that is the only thing that can be done, it is recommended that it is done. With a plastic surgeon, a new breast can be added.
Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer is a cancer that killed an estimated 580,350 people in the year 2013.
It is sad that it kills so many people every single year, and the unfortunate thing about it is that if people were to detect it soon enough, that number could be largely reduced. That is the important thing to know about breast cancer. If it can be caught early enough, it can actually be isolated and destroyed before it gets too dangerous. However, women don’t go for their six month or yearly mammogram, so they don’t know that they have a problem until the tumor has been there for a couple of years and by then, it is too late.
Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast Cancer Awareness’ job is to try and get women to go for their schedule mammograms. Basically, every October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Women wear pink patches as a symbol of breast cancer and as a hope to try to get women to understand the importance of getting their mammogram. The thing that women don’t understand is that if a cancer is caught early enough, by means of the mammogram, a doctor can go in and get the tumor out before it has done any significant damage. That’s the important part of the mammogram. It’s a warning for doctors.
It is normally around this time that women walk for different breast cancer walks in the hope of raising money to find a cure. That is an important thing. If a cure could be found, a lot of women’s lives could be saved each and every year. Even the government donates money in an effort to try and find a cure for this killer. In the year 2007, the government spent $844 million on breast cancer research. All of that money could go towards trying to find a cure as well as finding new chemotherapies that might work. All of this helps with the fight against breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October
October is an important month for these women. It’s a time where people are devoted to just breast cancer. George Bush, in the year 2006, declared October as the month that would be the Breast Cancer Awareness month. What this did was gave the breast cancer foundations more power to get their word across. And their word was very basic. Women, get your mammograms. By getting your mammograms, you can find potentially threats and remove them before they become too terrible. This is the first step in fighting the problem. Getting a mammogram once a year or even twice a year is what they recommend and it is highly recommended. Get rid of the cancer before surgeries or chemotherapies or radiation have to be used. Make life easier and life will be easier. The Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a month to educate, and they do a good job at it.