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Breast Cancer

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Do you know what is breast cancer? Breast cancer is a malignant tumour that develops from cells in the breast. How breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body? The cancer cells grow and divide out of control, invading and damaging nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells also break away from the original tumour and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. This spread of the cancer is called metastasis. Breast cancer may appear as a lump but there are many different types of breast lumps. Most lumps are harmless, or benign. Benign lumps are abnormal, but not life-threatening.

Who is at most risk? Men? Female? Or both of them will get breast cancer? The answer is female and male will get breast cancer. However, breast cancer is a female diseases, percentage of men get breast cancer is very low. For example, In Malaysia, the National Cancer Registry reported 56 news cases of male breast cancer in 2002 ; About 1% of cases occur in men (around 300 per year in the UK). For female, the percentage of Malaysian women get breast cancer is 30% in 2002 and 31% in 2003.

What are the causes of breast cancer? A woman’s risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. More than 80% of cases occur in women over 50. If you have one close relative such as mother and sister with breast cancer, it will doubles up your risk of getting breast cancer. Most cancer patients may not have a family history of the cancer, nor any exposure to known environment trigger. Women who have received high-dose ionizing radiation to the chest have a relative risk of breast cancer. Besides that, taking alcohol such as more than one glass per day to an increased risk of breast cancer. Taking the contraceptive pill slightly increase the risk too. Taking hormone replacement therapy significantly increases your risk somewhat more, but the health benefits derived from hormone replacement are better overall.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer? Early breast cancer can in some cases present a breast pain or a painful lump. Another reported symptom complex of breast cancer is Paget’s disease of the breast. This syndrome presents as eczematoid skin changes at the nipple, and is a late manifestation of an underlying breast cancer. In the simple ways, female should check for these main symptoms such as change in the size or shape of a breast, dimpling of the breast skin, the nipple becoming inverted and swelling or a lump in the armpit.

If you found that you unfortunately get breast cancer, what should you do? Don’t forget breast cancer has many types of treatment! The main treatment of breast cancer is surgery. In the most cases, conservative surgery is used, which preserves the shape and the appearance of the breast. For very early breast cancer, only the lump and a small area of tissue around it is removed. For later stage breast cancer, much more tissue is removed but it is replaced with muscle to rebuild the breast. Since breast cancer cells usually spread first to the lymph node in the armpit, the surgeon will usually cut into it to check for any spread. The surgery may followed by a short course of radiotherapy or chemotherapy, depending on the type of tumour and how advanced it is. In the most cases, the patient will given a longer course of hormone therapy like tamoxifen which reduces the risk of the cancer recurring. The other treatments are radiation treatment and mammography.

In conclusions, breast cancer is a common cancer and it is the second leading cancer killer in female. So, we must always protect ourselves from breast cancer. For me, I suggest that everyone with a family history of breast cancer should check themselves regularly. Thank you.

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