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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Facts about BC: (Breast Cancer)

While there are things every woman can do to help her body stay as healthy as possible (such as eating a balanced diet, not smoking, minimizing stress, and exercising regularly), breast cancer is never anyone's fault. Keeping the same in mind, there is a need for active participation to enlighten the women about this killer disease

It is surprising but true in every three minutes; a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the second most common form of cancer amongst women. Like in all parts of body, the cells in the breast also grow and then rest in cycle which is controlled by genes in the cell’s nucleus. When the genes are in good working order, they keep cell growth under control but if the genes develop an abnormality and lose their ability to control the cycle of cell growth and rest, cause cancer. So breast cancer is nothing but uncontrolled growth of breast cells.

Who’s at risk?

The exact cause of breast cancer does still not know but studies show that the risk of breast cancer increases as woman gets older. But there are certain conditions which increase a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. The most important is personal history. Women who have had breast cancer face an increased risk of getting this cancer on the other breast.

Family History: The risk for developing breast cancer increases if mother, sister, and first blood relations aunts had breast cancer, especially at a young age.

Late Child bearing: Women who deliver the first child after the age of thirty have the great chance of developing breast cancer than women who have child at young age.

Estrogen: Evidence suggests that the longer a woman is exposed to estrogen (estrogen made by body, taken as drug, or delivered by a patch), the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. For example, the risk is somewhat increased among women who began menstruation at an early age(before age of 12), experienced menopause late(after age 55), never had children, or took hormone replacement therapy for long period of time. Each of these factors increases the amount of time a woman’s body is exposed to estrogen.

Certain breast changes: Having diagnosis of a typical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ(LCIS) may increase a woman’s risk for developing cancer.

Breast density: Breast that has a high proportion of lobular and ductal tissue appears dense on mammograms. Breast cancers nearly always develop in lobular or ductal tissue (not fatty tissue). That’s why cancer is more likely to occur in breast that has a lot of lobular and ductal tissue (that is, dense tissue) than in breast with lot of fatty tissue. In addition, when breast are dense, it is more difficult for doctors to see abnormal areas on a mammogram.

Radiation therapy: Women, whose breasts were exposed to radiation during radiation therapy before the age of 30, are at an increased risk for developing it. Studies show that younger a woman was when she received her treatment.

Alcohol: Some studies suggest a slightly higher risk of BC among women who drinks alcohol. Scientist are conducting research into the causes of BC to learn more about risk factors and ways of preventing the disease.

Symptoms detection:

Generally, early BC usually does not cause pain, but this is not always the case. When BC first develops, there may be no symptoms of cancer at all. But as the cancer grows, it can cause changes that women should watch for:

***A lump or thickening in or near the breast area or in the underarm area;

***A change in the size or shape of the breast;

***Nipple discharge or tenderness, or the nipple pulled back (inverted) into the breast;

***Ridge or pitting of the breast (the skin looks like the skin of an orange)

***A change in the way the skin of the breast, areola or nipple looks or feels (for example, warm, swollen, red or scaly).

Most often, they are not cancerous, but it is important to be sure, nothing is much better than to consult the doctor immediately.

Diagnosing Breast Cancer:

Clinical breast exam: The doctor can tell a lot about a lump by carefully feeling it and the tissue around it. Benign lumps often feel different from cancerous ones. The doctors can examine the size and textures of the lumps and determine whether the lump moves easily.

Mammography: X-rays of the breast can give the doctor important information about breast lumps.

Ultrasonography: Using high-frequency sound waves, ultrasonography can often show whether a lump is fluid-filled cyst (not cancerous) or a solid mass (May or may not cancer). This exam may used along with mammography.

Treatment options:

Surgery: Surgery is usually the first line of attack against BC. There are two types of surgeries involved in breast cancer i.e. Mastectomy - which is the removal of all the breast tissues and Lumpectomy - also known as breast conserving surgery. It is the removal of the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissues.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy; this means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream. The purpose of chemotherapy and other systemic treatment is to get rid of any cancer cells that may have spread from where the cancer started to another part of the body.

The side effects of the chemotherapy come about because cancer cells aren’t the only rapidly dividing cells in your body. It does not only kills the bad cells but can kill good cells as well. The cells in your blood, mouth, intestinal tract, nose, nails, female organ and hair are also undergoing constant, rapid division. This means that the chemotherapy is going to affect them, too.

Radiation Therapy: It is also called Radiotherapy – is a highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery. Radiation can reduce the risk of BC recurrence by 50% to 66%. Despite what many people fear; radiation therapy is relatively easy to tolerate and its side effects are limited to the treated area.

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