As most of us look ahead into what we expect for our future, we will envision a life of good health, success and family. What if the health factor was not good? What if the woman in the family became ill with one of the most uprising and terminal illnesses. Breast cancer is a type of cancer which develops from a mutated gene. "One in 10 American women who live to be 70 develop breast cancer, with more than 180,000new cases diagnosed each year." (Predicting breast-cancer, MSNBC Health News) Most of us, when thinking of the future do not take into account the idea of becoming ill. Yet today, this is indeed an issue that needs attention as early in life as possible. Doctors who work with breast cancer patient are now recommending that women as young as 15 and 16 years old should start with self-examination. But how effective is the self-exam, and other forms of early detection, and does it really help to save women from the disease? This is a question I hope to address in the following research.
Self examinations are the most commonly used tests used for detecting breast cancer among women today. The self exam is a simple exam that women can perform on their own with a few simple steps.
Another way of detecting breast cancer is with a mammography. This is an X-ray that scans in make up of the breast to show whether there are and tumors. This is the most effective type of detection to date. (Cancer Facts, Detection. National Cancer Institute) One disadvantage to using mammography is that with mammography, the x-ray picture sometimes detects substances in the breast that are not recognizable. (NCI ) This can cause unnecessary worrying if the substances are not recognizable. NCI is now working on improving the equipment that is available. An extension of the mammography is the digital mammography. This is a computerized image of the mammography. It is able to zoom into areas highlighted and give a clear picture. NCI is hoping to improve the digital mammography so that the sensitivity of the test is greater and able to detect areas with "dense" tissue.( NCI)
Other, not so commonly used tests, are the MRI and ultrasounds. These methods are in the process of being improved to detect malignant and benign tissue. A disadvantage to the MRI is that they are unable to detect small calcium deposits which can have cancerous material within.
Among the clinical test that are done, some women are able to know if they have a chance of getting the disease by simply tracing back in their history. Up to 10 percent of female breast cancers are because of inheritance of an altered, or mutated, copy go one or two genes. (Health News, MSNBC) On the NBC news program 20/20, an interview was done on a family with a history of breast cancer.
Two sisters, Lori and Julie, and there cousin Staci are all waiting to turn forty and see if they are able to make it through their family curse. Both Lori and Julie's mom and Staci's mom died for breast cancer not long after they all turned forty. The interview was to gain an understanding in the difference of how Lori and Julie handle their future. Lori decides that seeing all the women in her family die by age forty was enough to convince her to have both her breasts removed before any detection of a benign tumor is found. Julie believes that her mind can control her getting cancer. Stacie decided to have a portion of both breasts removed. "There's never any guarantee. I know they can't remove all the breast tissue. But there's an awful lot removed that I don't have to worry about." In the end, Lori had her breast completely removed and a biopsy showed they were perfectly healthy. Julie is still deciding whether or not to have the genetic test too. (20/20 with Barbara Walters)
This story shows the inevitable fate for women with a history of breast cancer and what some chose to do. Not all women take the risk of having both breast completely remove. This was only one decision made.