Ina brief definition, cancer is a collection of disease that areinterrelated and affects the body cells, and it’s genetic innature. Just as there are different body cells, there are differenttypes of cancer that affects people in the modern society. One majorcharacteristic of cancer with all types of cancers is that, thecancer cells are abnormal and sometimes multiply out of control.Cancer refers to a class of diseases that are characterized byuncontrollable cell division to form lumps, tumors and masses whichinterfere with the normal body function (Mera,2009).Other cancers such as leukemia do not form such, but inhibit normalblood function. According to the AmericanCancer Society,there will be an estimated 1, 658,370 cancer cases and 589,430 deathsin the year 2015 in the US ("Surveillance, Epidemiology, and EndResults Program Turning Cancer Data into Discovery"). Among themost common cancers is breast cancer (Mera,2009).
Breastcancer refers to the uncontrollable multiplication of cells in thebreast. It is characterized by signs such as a lump in the breast,pus or blood discharge from the nipple, pain in the breast, loss ofbreast symmetry, dimpling of the breast and swollen lymph nodesespecially those in the axilla ("BreastCancer", 2015). Theage of onset of breast cancer is mostly is 50 years and above, thoughit can occur at any age. This can mainly be attributed to the loss,ovarian function in the production of hormones such as estrogen andprogesterone that regulate breast growth leading to menopause. About1 in every 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer at a point intheir life in the US. This approximates to 12.5 % of all women in theUS. An estimated 60, 290 new cases being diagnosed in 2015 in the USalone, according to the American cancer society ("BreastCancer",2015).
Numerouselements/factors have been identified to heighten the risk of breastcancer in our society today. These factors include exposure toradiations through X-rays of prior radiation therapy, especiallybefore age 30, overweight and obese individuals, alcohol consumption,and long term use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause,reduced physical activity and race. This factor acts together tostimulate the excessive growth of breast tissue, leading to breastcancer.
Thereare two major types of breast cancer. Ductalcarcinoma,whichaffects the lining of the milk ducts and is most common. Lobularcarcinoma, which affects the lobules where milk is stored. Ductalcarcinoma is mostly noninvasive and therefore easy to treat ascompared to lobular carcinoma. Breast cancer is normally diagnosedusing after conducting a breast examination. Once a lump is feltduring an examination, further testing is done to confirm thediagnosis. The tests that must be done include Clinical assessment,Radiological imaging and Cytological or histological verification.After diagnosis and staging, the following modes of treatment can beused to treat breast cancer. Radiation therapy where the radiationsare targeted directly to the lump to burn it and destroy thecancerous cells. This mode of treatment has the advantage of limitingthe side effects of treatment to that particular area. The radiationscan either be administered externally or internally (Harding& Harding, 2006).
Theother mode of treatment for breast cancer is chemotherapy. Thisentails the use of drugs that destroy the cancerous cells, thuspreventing them from growth and spread. However, chemotherapy has thedisadvantage of affecting the whole body with side effects such ashair loss, nausea and weakened immune system as it prohibits thegrowth and multiplication of other body cells as well, such as thewhite blood cells. Mastectomy can also be done. This is the surgicalremoval of the breast tissue. It is normally done if there isextensive breast tissue involvement. ‘Lumpectomy’ is a specialform of mastectomy where the breast tissue is conserved and only thetumor is removed.
Thesetreatment mechanisms can be combined to make it more effectivedepending on the stage of breast cancer. Radiation therapy can beused after the surgical removal of the breast to kill any residualcancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be administered prior to surgery soas to reduce the tumor size and leave clear margins for easyvisualization by the surgeon ("Breastcancer.org – Breast CancerInformation and Awareness", 2015). Another treatment for breastcancer includes the use of Tamoxifen. This is an anti-estrogen drugthat blocks estrogen receptors therefore preventing the excessivegrowth of breast tissue since estrogen is responsible for the growthof breast tissue. It is also given to high risk patients as aprevention mechanism. Other alternative medicines for breast cancerinclude: Vitamin D, and Cholecalciferol help inhibit growth of cancercells, Melatonin blocks the estrogen receptors in the cancer, Astragalus which enhance the natural killer cells that destroyabnormal cells and therapeutic massage, as well as stress relievingtechniques are also used (Harding& Harding, 2006).
Breastcancer is caused by an interaction of many genes. A mutation in geneBRCA-1 and BRCA-2 intensifies the threat of breast cancer 10 fold.These genes are responsible for the production of tumor suppressorproteins that kill cancerous cells. When they are mutated, the tumorsuppressor proteins produced are not effective in destroyingcancerous cells, therefore leading to the increased menace of breastcancer 10 fold. Both genetics and lifestyle play a huge role inbreast cancer. A person has an increased chance of getting breastcancer if the is a family history of the same. Environmental factorssuch as alcohol consumption and exposure to radiations also lead toan increased risk. Therefore, breast cancer is caused by theinterplay of genetic and environmental factors.
Inthe recent times, various studies about the causes and treatment forbreast cancer are currently being done. This includes the studies oncauses of BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, gene mutations, environmentalcontributing factors of breast cancer as well as studies on genetictesting to identify those at risk. Potential future treatments forbreast cancer include the use of chemo-prevention drugs and newchemotherapeutic drugs with fewer side effects. The NationalInstitute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is studying theenvironmental factors that contribute or causes of breast cancer andthe National breast cancer research institute is also conductingvarious studies on treatment (Harding& Harding, 2006).The technology advancement in the health industry has been a majorbreakthrough in the fight against the breast cancer menace. Servicessuch as chemotherapy has become a key aspects or practice in thefight against this cancer. In addition, different other measures havebeen diagnosed to be essential in reducing the risk of breast cancerin one’s life. Such measures include watching one’s weight,exercising regularly, minimizing use of alcohol, and finally avoiding‘menopausalhormone therapy’.
Nationalcancer institute, Breast Cancer. (n.d.), National Institutes ofHealth. Retrieved on April 4, 2015. Fromhttp://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/breast
Breastcancer.org- Breast Cancer Information and Awareness. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4,2015, from http://www.breastcancer.org/
Harding,F., & Harding, F. (2006). Breastcancer cause, prevention, cure: [a cure at last!].Aylesbury (England: Tekline Pub.
Mera,S. L. (2009). Understandingdisease: Pathology and prevention.Cheltenham, UK: Stanley Thornes (Publishers.