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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a disease that develops in the cells of the breast. The cells will continue to duplicate and become cancerous, whereas normal cells in the breast will grow, divide and know when to stop growing.
The breast covers a larger area than can be seen externally. It expands up to the collarbone and from the armpit to the breastbone in the centre of the chest.
Symptoms:Most commonly breast cancer is discovered as a small painless lump in the breast or armpit. It can be located by a self exam, physician, physical exam, or screening mammogram. Signs of breast cancer development may include:
-Changes in breast size or shape
-A lump or swelling in the armpit
-Nipple turning inwards
-Crusting or scaling on the nipple
-Dimpling or puckering of the skin
-Redness, swelling and increased warmth of the affected breast
Lumps in the breast are common, especially before a period. Not all lumps are cancerous and proper testing for diagnoses is necessary.
There are various factors that play a role in developing breast cancer:
-Beginning to menstruate at an early age
-Taking hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years
-Reaching menopause later than average
-Never having given birth or giving birth for the first time after age 30
-Having a family member being diagnosed with breast cancer prior to menopause; especially a sister, mother or daughter
-A woman being diagnosed previously in one breast is more likely to get it again
-Although it can develop at any age, the risk of getting breast cancer increases with age
Women who have many of these risk factors may never develop breast cancer. Also, women who do not have any of these risk factors may develop breast cancer.
In deciding on the appropriate treatment for an individual, a physician will consider a variety of factors for the diagnosed patient: age, general health, whether the diagnosed has gone through menopause and the stage, type and grade of the cancer itself. A few options for treatment are:
-Radiation therapy
-Biological therapy
-Hormone therapy
At the end of cancer treatment, there may be feelings of mixed emotions. Some feel happy to return to their regular activities and others feel worried and anxious. No matter the outcome, the best way to help someone through this time is with lots of support. Talking with family, friends, physicians and others diagnosed with breast cancer will help support a patient through the entire process.

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