Aspects of Breast Cancer


According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States in 1997
alone, 180,000 people were diagnosed with a horrible disease. Of all
types of cancer breast cancer ranks second and is the number one cancer
which is fatal in women between ages of 15 to 54. This cancer is within
the top three cancers of all women above the age of 15. This awful
disease is breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a group of rapidly growing reproducing,
undifferentiated cells in the area of the breast in a woman. The
earliest stages occur in the epithelial cells of the terminal end buds
(TEB) of the breast milk ductal system. While the causes of breast
cancer are unknown, the cells in the breast trigger a reaction of cell
reproduction. These new cancer cells form tumors. If cancer cells are
active or are considered malignate, the tumor grows at tremendous speeds,
and may end up in metastasis. Metastasis is a process in which cells
break away from their primary tumors and is carried through the blood
supply or through the lymph system and relocate into other organs, thus
spreading cancer throughout the body if left untreated. Generally, if a
lump is less than one centimeter, it is considered benign, although every
woman should consult her doctor about any unusual bumps or feeling in the
chest. One sign of breast cancer results from ductal cancer in the
breast. A once hollow open tube could be completely clogged up with
cancerous cells thus leaving an awkward feeling in the chest area. The
body is forced to supply nutrition for itself, but also for the large
tumors that clog and cram the system.
 Although there are many different types of breast cancer, these are the
most common. The first one is adenocarcinoma. It starts in the
glandular tissues in any part of the body. Even though that it is a
commonly diagnosed cancer the prognosis can vary greatly due to when the
cancer is found. This accounts for nearly all breast cancer.
 Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a noninvasive breast cancer. It
starts in ducts but doesn^Òt spread through the duct walls. The best way
to detect this kind of cancer is by a mammogram. This may change into an
invasive cancer if not caught in time. If it changes then it is called
an infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC). This form of invasive cancer
invades the fatty tissue of the breast. IDC invades to other parts of
the body through the lymphatic system and bloodstream. When the cancer
name has in situ in it that means that the cancer is localized and has
not spread to any other part of the body. 
 Prevention is one part of the puzzle to cure breast cancer, but it is
extremely important to get breast examinations often to make sure of no
lumps or early tumors. The simplest forms of breast exam are a
self-examination, one with a doctor, or a mammogram. A mammogram is
simply an X-ray of the breast. Mammography can pick up small legions of
under one half a centimeter, whereas one can not feel a lump until it is
a full centimeter in diameter. Dr. Gardner says, ^ÓFortunately, because of
the use of mammography, we are detecting many tumors before they have a
chance to invade the surrounding tissue.^Ô ( University Health Quarterly
4) Any woman 40 or older should be having a yearly mammogram, but, if
breasts are small or dense, a mammogram might not pick it up. Another
procedure could be a wire localization. A thin wire is used to show where
the legion is after the wire is inserted, and local anesthetic is
administered. Thermography is based on the idea that cancer gives off
more heat than regular cells. Transillumination is founded in the concept
that light shines through breast tissue but is blocked by lumps. An
ultrasound is when high frequency sound waves are sent off in a
radar fashion, and reflect off objects that they hit. A CAT scan is the
process of visually cutting the body into cross sections. But another
controversy runs deep in the issue of using CAT scans to find cancer
tissue. The radiation required to examine a five milliliter lump is often
considered simply too high for safety and has a possibility of just
simply spreading the cancer to other body parts. A MRI takes advantage of
the electromagnetic qualities of the hydrogen nucleus to produce an
electric chart or visual.
 Although a cure for this kind of cancer has not been found, there has
been new research that has just come out about genes and cell mutation
and the relationship to breast cancer. Researchers from the Imperial
Cancer Research Fund are the first to build a three dimensional model of
an important region of a protein molecule found in the BRCA1 gene-linked
to cancer. Genes hold the directions for proteins and then the proteins
work controlling the life of the cells. Mutations in the genes that
normally suppress tumor growth may be inactivated, thus starving the cell
of the crucial brakes needed to halt the controlled division commonly
found in cancer. The leading researcher Dr. Paul Freemont says ^ÓThis is
a very important piece of research. We have worked out the three
dimensional structure of part of a protein which is found in about 50
other gene products, including BRCA1^Ô(BBC 1), new cancer research is
helping to develop new treatments and are closer to finding a cure.
 There are many new treatments out there, but there are two drug
treatments that work the most effectively on breast cancer. Chemotherapy
is most commonly used, and it has been used for the longest time. It is
a treatment that uses artificial drugs to destroy cells. The down side
of chemotherapy is the side affects. Nausea, hair loss, and extreme
fatigue are the drastic after shock of the drug. These side affects may
cause the person to have to quit their jobs. Treatments may last from 2
weeks to 2 years or longer. The second drug that is being used is also a
synthetic product, Tamoxifen interferes with the activity of estrogen. 
It works against estrogen to prevent the growth of new cancer cells. It
has been proven to prevent the cancer from returning after it goes into
remission. Although new treatments vary from person to person, Dr.
Gardner says, ^ÓHer options will be determined by the size, location,
stage and type of breast cancer, as well as her age, menopausal status
and general health.^Ô(University Health Quarterly 4) It is a big decision
on which treatment the women will receive, but chemotherapy and tamoxifen
are just two possible drugs.
 Until individuals commit themselves to a healthy diet, watch for signs
of breast cancer, or even volunteer time, we will always have the
problem. While there are many factors from weight to factors that one
can't even control, such as heredity and DNA, taking a look at the whole
picture and evaluating your opinions into your own choice, and consulting
other references will end in the best decision for every woman.


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