Breast Cancer Essay Research Paper Cancer is

Breast Cancer Essay, Research Paper

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

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. [,

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. Some risk

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 to weigh

carefully the benefits and the drawbacks before you proceed with testing. [,

pp. 11] The drug tamoxifen has been used for many years as a treatment for some

breast cancer. Recent studies show that women at high risk for breast cancer are

less likely to develop the disease if they take tamoxifen. Another drug,

raloxifene, also blocks the effect of estrogen on breast tissue and some studies

seem to show that it lowers the risk of breast cancer. But raloxifene has not

yet been approved for this use. In some rare cases, women at very high risk

might consider a preventive (prophylactic) mastectomy. This is an operation in

which one or both breasts are removed before there is any known breast cancer.

The reasons for considering this type of surgery need to be very strong. They

would include one or more of the following: inherited mutated genes, an earlier

breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, and diagnosis of

certain conditions such as lobular carcinoma in situ. While the operation

reduces the risk of breast cancer, it does not guarantee that cancer won’t

develop in the small amount of breast tissue remaining after the operation. The

earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances for successful treatment.

Because early breast cancer does not produce symptoms, it’s important for all

women to follow the guidelines for finding breast cancer early. A mammogram and

a breast exam by a doctor or nurse (clinical breast examination) every year for

women over the age of 40. Between the ages of 20 and 39, women should have a

clinical breast exam every 3 years. All women over 20 should do breast self-

examination (BSE) every month. Together, these methods offer the best chance of

finding breast cancer early. Each is covered in more detail below. [Vacan, pp.

37] This paper has covered many things that people have learned and taught.

Breast cancer is a really serious type of cancer that can be treated if caught

in the early stage. I have learned many things about breast cancer such as how

to detect it, treat it, and fight it. Breast cancer is one major fear of most

women in the world today. Cancer Facts. New York: World Wide Web, 1994: 1-16 Feigenbeum,

Lawrence H. Women in the 90?s. Dallas: Jovanovich, 1999 Lee, Susan A. Women

Dealing With Breast Cancer. California: Harccurt, 1962 Vacan, Juile. Cancer in

Women Today. New York: Teen People, 2000: 25-37 Women on the Web.

Florida: World Wide Web, 1998: 6-9


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