Breast Cancer

In the United States, up to 47,700 women are being diagnosed with breast cancer every year, which is equal to 130 women a day. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 women will die from breast cancer annually. About 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, with about 450 deaths in the result of male breast cancer occurring each year. Breast cancer is a disease affecting the cells and tissues in the breast including milk ducts, lobules and the connective tissues in the area.

Breast cancer occurs in women when cells within breast tissue mutate and begin to multiply uncontrollably. This leads to the development of tumors in the breast, which have the potential to spread through other parts of the body through the lymph nodes, spreading the cancer. Men can also get breast cancer, but it is rare. Cancer of the male breast is the uncontrolled growth of the abnormal cells of a particular breast tissue in men. Men have a small amount of breast tissue that does not produce milk that is concentrated in the area directly behind the nipple on the chest wall.

Breast cancer is staged from zero to four, according to the size of the tumor, whether or not lymph nodes are affected by the cancerous cells and if the cancer has spread to other organs. The stages show the progression or how far the cancer has developed at the time of diagnosis. Each stage is based on four characteristics: the size of the cancer, whether the cancer is invasive or non- invasive, whether the cancer is in the lymph nodes, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the breast.

Tumor, Node, Metastasis (TNM) is another staging system researchers use to provide more details about how the cancer looks and behaves. Some information states that approximately five to ten percent of breast cancers are caused by genetic factors, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some others say it has much to do with how we take care of ourselves. Other risk factors for breast cancer include obesity, drinking alcohol, using hormone replacement therapy medications after menopause, developing menstrual periods before the age of twelve and having your first child after the age of 35.

Women that become pregnant, in their mid thirties are more commonly to get breast cancer. Although being pregnant does not cause the cancer, the hormone change makes the growth accelerate leading to the possibility of breast cancer. Having breast cancer when pregnant can be harmful for both the mother and child, so that is why routine breast exams are important throughout pregnancy. It is difficult to find small lumps during pregnancy because of all the changes the body goes through. That is why by the time doctors find the cancer is more advanced than it would be in a woman that is not pregnant.

Mammograms are only 80% accurate in women that are pregnant. There are no studies that say breast cancer can not harm a baby in the womb, but the treatment for breast cancer certainly can. Breastfeeding is also safe for a baby (if you are undergoing chemotherapy), but it will not improve the breast cancer. Having breast cancer while pregnant does not mean you can’t get pregnant again; however, doctors would recommend waiting at least two years. A risk factor for breast cancer is anything that affects your chances of getting a particular disease. You can control some of them, but not all of them.

The ones that you can not control include genetics or family history, and environmental exposures or behaviors that occurred in the past. Approximately five to ten percent of breast cancers are caused by genetic factors. The ones that you can control include what your current and future behaviors include. Things like diet and exercise, and your current and future environmental exposures, such as to tobacco smoke or any other tobacco products and other chemicals. Breast Cancer is not contagious, someone can not get it from the air, and it can not be transferred from one body to another.

However, all of the risk factors are not absolute: having one or more risk factors does not mean that you will definitely get cancer. At the same time avoiding all the risk factors does not mean that you will be healthy and not have a chance of getting breast cancer. However, they can certainly affect your odds of not getting breast cancer. Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (Breast Cancer gene one) and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer gene two). Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

The function of the BRCA genes is to repair cell damage and keep breast cells growing normally. When these genes contain abnormalities that can be passed from generation to generation, the genes do not function normally and breast cancer risk increases. Having an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene does not mean you will be diagnosed with breast cancer. About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from the parent to child. Someone knowing that they have changes in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can help them prevent breast cancer is a myth.

Someone having this alteration in their genes is like getting cancer from age or family history; it is just something no one can control. Gender is the number one risk factor for breast cancer. Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than men. Knowing what steps to take to have yourself checked out for breast cancer is very important, not just for women but also for men. It is important that men and women know and understand the signs of breast cancer as well as knowing how to examine yourself. For women there are steps that we can take to examine ourselves to look for breast cancer.

Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Look for your breasts to be their usual size, shape, and color, and that they are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling. If you see any dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, a nipple that has changed position or is pushed inward instead of sticking out, or redness, soreness, rash, or swelling, then bring them to your doctor’s attention. You should also check for any fluids coming out.

Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand for your left breast and your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together, and use a circular motion. Make sure to cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, then from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting because women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is in the shower.

Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements from step four. For men, the sign of breast cancer is a firm, no pain mass located just below the nipple. In conclusion, all of the risk factors are not absolute. Having one or more risk factors does not mean that you will definitely get cancer. Breast Cancer is also not contagious and can not be passed from one body to the next. However, avoiding all the risk factors does not mean that you will be healthy and not have a chance of getting breast cancer.

If you do avoid the risk factors as much as possible then they can certainly affect your odds of not getting breast cancer. Knowing how to check yourself for breast cancer is just as important as knowing the steps to take to be checked by a professional. Knowing your family history is also helpful because breast cancer could be genetic in your family. Breast cancer is a chronic disease that anybody can get, including men, so it is important to take care of yourself to try to avoid it.

Learn all the signs and symptoms of breast cancer so if you do get it you can treat it early. Men should be more concerned nowadays as well and be more aware of breast cancer. As well as women need to be more aware of breast cancer, as this chronic disease affects and kills many people every year. References Cancercenter. com Breast cancer in men Breastcancersociety. org Nationalbreastcancer. org Pregnancy associated breast cancer and pregnancy after breast cancer treatment.

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