Breast Cancer

Pam Stephan, an online journalist of About. com, defines breast cancer as “….. a malignant (cancerous) growth that begins in the tissues of the breast. Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it can also appear in men….. ” Malignant growths or tumours are cancerous as opposed to benign tumours which are not cancerous. In reality their cells are close to normal in appearance, they grow slowly, and they do not invade nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body.

Malignant tumours when left overtime and kept unchecked can spread beyond the original tumour to other parts of the body thus, increasing the number of cancer cells throughout the body. Usually, breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. However, irregular cases do exist, for example in the stromal tissues which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast. As with other diseases, there are always obvious risk factors.

Unfortunately, there are often many risk factors that cannot be changed. Take gender for example, even though men themselves can become stricken with this disease, statistics have proven that it is approximately 100 times more common in females. Another uncontrollable risk factor is age, studies carried out have proven that as women especially, grow older, they are at a greater chance of getting breast cancer. Statistics have concluded that about 2 of 3 women with invasive or enveloping breast cancer are of ages 55 or older when the cancer is initially found.

Family history is also another important factor that again cannot be controlled, even though having close blood relatives from either the mother’s or father’s side can almost double a person’s risk of attaining this disease, statistics have confirmed that over 85% of women who contract this disease do not have any family history of this disease. Therefore, it can be said that really and truly no one is free from acquiring this ill-fated malady. Above all, the most arguable point in terms of uncontrollable risk factors involves the race or ethnicity of a person.

In a recent study carried out in the island of Barbados revealed that this may be indeed true. Barbados is a Caribbean island situated in the Western area of the North Atlantic, 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea, their population even though predominantly of African- origin shares an ancestral origin with African- Americans, therefore making this island especially suitable to carry out this study. The research carried out revealed that breast cancer incidence in African- Americans between the years 2000- 2004 was 143. 7 (142. 0- 145. 5) per 100, 000. Incidence peaked at 226.

6 (174. 5- 289. 4) per 100, 000 among Barbadian women aged 50- 54 years, and declined from then on. A pattern in marked contrast to trends in African- American women, whose rates continued to increase to a peak of 483. 5 per 100, 000 in those aged 75- 79 years. Incidence rate ratios comparing Barbadian and African- American women who showed no statistically significant differences among women aged 39 or less, marginal statistical differences among women 40- 54 years and strongly significant differences among women aged 55 or more. The age- standardised mortality rate in Barbados was 32.

9 (29. 6- 36. 0) per 100, 000; similar to reported US rates. The pattern of diverging breast cancer incidence between Barbadian and African- American women may suggest a greater contribution from genetic factors in younger women, and from environmental factors in older women. Studies in intermediate risk populations, such as Barbados, may assist the understanding of racial disparities in breast cancer. Now that the many ways in which this disease can be contracted or transmitted has been examined, the question of what preventative methods can or could be used still remains.

Some of these precautionary methods include: minimizing or avoiding alcohol, consuming as many fruits and vegetables as possible, exercising regularly, taking supplementary requirements daily, consuming whole foods and soy products regularly and most importantly, minimizing your exposure to pharmacologic estrogens and xeno- estrogens. In conclusion, it can be said that there are indeed many ways of contracting this terminal illness such as age, race etc, additionally, even though there is no full or complete way of ensuring that you do not contract this disease, there are several preventative methods listed in this detailed essay.

Furthermore, when it comes to the reliability of my information, it can without a doubt be trusted as with reference to Pam Stephan the journalist whom I acquired some of my data from, has not only studied the disease, but being a breast cancer survivor herself for seven (7) years (presently), allowed her significant insight into the topic. In addition, in terms of validity, the study contains both internal validity as there were relevant flaws in the design of the research method, as well as external validity because the finding on this topic can be applied to a larger group or situation.

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