Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among women of all shapes and sizes. Breast cancer is a personal topic to me because my great-grandmother on my mothers side had it and had her breast removed and just recently I found out that my grandmother on my fathers side has been diagnosed with breast cancer and that the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. Many women today don’t know the health risks, causes, and treatments to breast cancer even though it is one of the number one killers of women. Catching the cancer when it’s too late, or not being knowledgeable about the topic can be really risky and could cost you your life or the life of a loved one.
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts from cells in your breast. This disease is mostly found in women but is also often found in men as well. Our breasts have glands called lobules(which make breast milk), ducts (which carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple), fatty tissues, blood vessels, and lymph. The cancer is mostly found to start forming in the cells that line the ducts but sometimes can begin in the lobules. Your lymphs have vessels that are similar to veins. Inside these vessels is fluid which contains immune system cells and waste products. Most lymph vessels lead to collections of tissue which are called lymph nodes, which lead under the arms which are called axillary nodes. These nodes swell up if the cancer cells reach them. Once the cancer starts to reach these nodes they are more than likely going to spread to other organs of the body.
There are many kinds of risk factors of cancer. Most factors are a persons age or race which are things that can’t be changed no matter what. There are other factors that are called “cancer-causing factors” such as smoking, drinking, and diet. Some of the listed factors hold more weight than others and the risk for breast cancer changes over time, meaning that maybe today your risk factor is low but later on in about 20 years it will be higher and more likely. Some of this is due to aging and lifestyle. About 5%-10% of breast cancer is thought to be hereditary from gene changes or mutations. Genetic testing is a source to finding out if you carry the breast cancer gene. You have an even higher risk of getting breast cancer of you have a first-degree relative (mother, grandmother, sister, or daughter) that has had or still has breast cancer almost doubles your risk of getting it. If you have 2 first-degree relative it is sometimes almost a guarantee that you are going to get it too, but not in all cases. Not only do you have a risk from female relatives but we also have risks if we have male members of the family that have breast cancer too.
The treatment to breast cancer is somewhat limited. Many doctors have their own way to treating it. Some women go through chemo-radiation to try to kill off the cancer cells but isn’t always effective and sometimes just isn’t worth it. Other treatments are simply the removal of the breast altogether. Some women fear that if they get chemo-radiation that it won’t be effective and may not have killed all of the cancer cells, causing the cells to grow more later on down the road, creating a risk that it will spread to the lymph nodes. When women get their breast removed some opt for plastic surgery and get fake ones put in place to feel like a woman again.
Even though this was a very small essay about breast cancer, you can still learn a lot or just enough to know that you need to get a mammogram done about once a year especially if you know that there have been cases of breast cancer in your family. The only way to prevent it is to catch it in time. The only way to catch it in time is to have those annual tests on your breast. Though time consuming and rather uncomfortable that 5-10 minute test might just be the thing that saves your life. CITATION
American Cancer Society. 19 Sept. 2007 http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/CRI_2_3x.asp?dt=5