What Is Breast Cancer

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Introduction: What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer will strike one in every eight American women. This makes it the most common cancer in woman. Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Of that number, 40,000 will die from breast cancer each year. (Journal of Environmental Health 2003)

Breast cancer is just one type of cancer. Cancerous cells are cells that grow without the normal system of controls placed upon them. Breast cancer develops from the mammary ducts 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time the cancer develops from the lobules of the breasts. While breast cancer may occur in men, this paper will primarily focus on breast cancer in women. Breast cancer is 100 times more likely to affect women as it is men. There are two forms of breast cancer, invasive cancer and carcinoma in situ. (Dimensions of Human Sexuality, Shriver, S. 2002)

Invasive cancer is the more serious form of breast cancer. Invasive cancer develops when some abnormal cells from the interior of the lobules or ducts rupture out into the breast tissue surrounding the lobules. Once these cells are free, they may travel into the lymphatic and vascular system where they have access to virtually all other areas of the body. These cells are especially fond of migrating to the liver, bones, and lungs. (Dimensions of Human Sexuality, Shriver, S. 2002)

In contrast, carcinoma in situ are a cluster of abnormal breast tissue cells that develop inside of the lobules of the breast. These do not travel to other areas. In situ translates to mean ‘in place'. The cancer cells associated with Carcinoma in situ are not considered completely cancerous. They don't possess the capability to travel outside the breast tissues. However, they are considered a precancerous condition. They may eventually develop into an invasive form of cancer or just raise the risk of developing invasive cancer. (Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 2003)

This paper will cover the following aspects of breast cancer: Breast anatomy and physiology, Risk factors, Hormonal relationships with breast cancer, Early detection/screening, Treatment options currently available, and the unique Psychological Impact that breast cancer creates for women.

Breast Structure: Anatomy, Physiology, Neurologic Control, Vascular Supply

The breasts, also called mammary glands, exist in both females and males. However, in men they are not developed unless certain abnormal hormonal changes take place. The breasts in women vary somewhat in size and shape. Basically the breasts are located off to the sides of the sternum, on the front of the chest wall between the second and sixth ribs. (Anatomy of the Human Body, Gray, H.)

During puberty hormonal changes cause the breasts to begin to develop and mature. This stimulation comes from the release of estrogen from the anterior pituitary. The base of each breast lies on top of the pectoralis major, obliquus externus abdominis, and serratus anterior muscles and

extends up into the axillary region. On the external surface of the breast, between the 4th and 5th ribs is the nipple. The nipple is made up of contractile muscle fibers and is capable of becoming firm and erect when stimulated. The color of the nipple can range from a light pink to brown. At the tip of the nipple there are up to twenty tiny openings from the lactiferous ducts. The circular area surrounding the nipple is called the areola. The color of the areola may also range from a light pink to a dark brown. During pregnancy the areola will darken. Imbedded in the areola are areolar glands which give the areola a slightly bumpy appearance. These glands secrete an oily kind of substance that acts as a skin protector during breast feeding. (Textbook of Medical Physiology, Guyton, 2000)

The breast tissue itself is a series of lobules and mammary ducts that form a pattern similar to clusters of grapes. The...
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