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    Default Breast cancer



    Breast cancer is the one of the commonest malignancies afflicting women. In some parts it is the most common malignancy. It is currently estimated that one in 14 of all female children born will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

    Breast cancer causes:
    Despite extensive investigation into the cause of breast cancer there is still no known cause. However, a combination of environmental factors and genetic mutations are thought to be responsible for this cancer. In familial breast cancers, a molecular change in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a major role in the onset of the disease.

    Breast Cancer Types
    Breast cancer is mainly of two types:

    * Ductal carcinoma- occurs in milk ducts
    * Lobular carcinoma- occurs in the milk secreting breast lobules

    Categorically breast cancer can also be divided into following types:

    * In-situ breast cancer- cancer cells remains confined within their place of origin and do not attack surrounding breast tissue.
    * Invasive or metastatic breast cancer- cancer cells break free of their place of origin, and spread to different parts of the body.

    Like all cancer types, breast cancer also progresses through different stages. Breast cancer stages are based on the size of the breast lump or tumor, whether the cancer is in-situ type or malignant, and whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast tissue.

    Breast Cancer Symptoms
    Following abnormalities in the breast anatomy are suggestive breast cancer symptoms:

    * Unusual swelling of all or one specific part of the breast
    * Continuous skin irritation or dimpling
    * Persisting pain in breast
    * Persisting nipple pain or inversion of nipple
    * Inflammation or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
    * An unusual discharge from the nipple other than breast milk
    * Lump in the underarm area

    Breast CancerWhat are the risk factors for breast cancer?
    The exact cause of breast cancer is not known and most likely involves many factors:

    Geographical: It is much more common in the western world.

    Gender: Women are a hundred times more likely to have breast cancer as compared to men.

    Age: Breast cancer risk increases with age. 16% of women aged between 40-60 years have breast-related problems, and complain of breast lumps. In most of the cases, these breast lumps may carry a potential breast cancer risk.

    Genetic: A family history of breast cancer will increase the risk of developing breast cancer in a woman by three to five times. Recently, a breast cancer gene (BR CA 1) has been identified. If a woman has this gene present in her chromosomes, there is an 85% chance of developing either breast or ovarian cancer, or both in her lifetime.

    Hormonal: It appears to be more common in women who did not bear children. It is also less common in women who have their first child at early age.

    Women who started their menstrual periods before age 12, those who delayed menopause until after age 55, and those who had their first pregnancy after age 30 have a mildly increased risk of developing breast cancer (less than two times the normal risk).

    Fitness levels and life style related factors such as smoking are also some of the most commonly known breast cancer risk factors that can be checked.

    Breast Cancer Prevention:
    Cancer prevention though a very ambiguous concept due to their molecular cause of origin, can be achieved through small but effective changes made to lifestyle:

    * Restricted alcohol consumption
    * Maintaining a healthy body weight
    * Inclusion of limited fat in diet
    * Regular exercise
    * Avoiding unnecessary consumption of antibiotics
    * Reverting to organic food free of pesticides

    Besides, long-tern hormone therapy may also undermine breast cancer. But screening is by far the best breast cancer prevention method.

    What factors have a protective effect?
    Pregnancy and breast feeding have a protective effect in preventing breast cancer.

    How is breast cancer diagnosed?

    Screening:
    The prognosis of breast cancer is closely related to the stage of disease at the time of diagnosis, therefore screening for breast cancer is extremely important. Numerous studies have confirmed that populations which get screened for breast cancer yield patients having much smaller tumors with much better prognosis. Currently, mammography and breast examination serve as the foundation in screening for breast cancer. Mammography is an x-ray examination of the breast. It has the ability to detect a cancer in the breast when it is quite small, long before it may be felt by breast examination. Eighty-five to 90% of all breast cancers are detectable by mammography. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of breast cancers are not visible on mammography, but can be felt on physical examination of the breast.

    The importance of Breast Self Examination cannot be overstressed. A percentage of breast cancers is not seen on mammography and it is extremely important for a woman to perform Breast Self Examinations.

    Currently, it is recommended that a woman should have a baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40 years. Between 40 and 50 years of age mammograms are recommended every other year. After age 50 years, yearly mammograms are recommended at womens health care centers.

    Other diagnostic tests and procedures:
    Ultrasound: An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to visualize structures inside the body. It is often used to distinguish between cysts and solid tumors in the breast. Fluid within cysts can be aspirated (withdrawn with a needle and syringe) for analysis in the laboratory.

    Biopsy: It is a procedure which involves removal of a piece of tissue to analyze under the microscope. Biopsy still remains the only confirmatory test for breast cancer. If an area of the breast is suspicious for a cancer, a biopsy is usually performed to confirm or deny the diagnosis.

    Breast Cancer Treatment:
    In recent years, there has been an overwhelming explosion of life-saving treatment advances against breast cancer. So, once breast cancer is detected, one should go for the following treatment options:

    * Surgery
    * Radiation
    * Surgery followed by Radiation
    * Chemotherapy
    * Combined Therapy
    * Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer
    * Hormonal Therapy - Aromatase Inhibitors
    * Targeted Therapies
    * Complimentary and Holistic Medicines
    * Angiogenesis Inhibitors Therapy


    Keywords: Breast cancer, health care, radiation, regular exercise, yoga, Ductal carcinoma, Lobular carcinoma
    Last edited by minisoji; 12-16-2010 at 09:53 AM.

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