Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

There are causes of breast cancer which can be avoided and there are those which cannot be changed. Age and gender for example are the primari risk factors of breast cancer and they cannot be avoided. One out of eight women are diagnosed by breast cancer. And as a woman grows older she becomes more susceptible to breast cancer. Most advanced cases of breast cancer are found in women age 50 years and older. Men can also develop breast cancer. However, they are 100 times less likely to develop breast cancer than women. During the early 20th century, breast cancer knowledge was not that well known, perhaps the Korean comfort women were also latter victims of breast cancer.

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For those who belong in a family with a history of breast cancer, there is also a higher risk of them having breast cancer. It does not only include a history on breast cancer but who also had uterine, ovarian, or colon cancer. Some may also develop genetic mutations which make them more vulnerable to breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes produce proteins which protects a person from cancer and for those who have developed cancer, these genes are also the common ones which were found out to have defects. A woman who has one of these defects have 80% chance of developing cancer in later life.

Women who also had their periods earlier than 12 years old have an increased risk in developing breast cancer. The same goes with women who have late menopause, after 55 years old.

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Lack of childbearing, lack of breastfeeding are the other potential risk factors for having breast cancer. There are recent studies that exposure to light pollution may also be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Although the above factors cannot be avoided, it is still to be aware of them so that necessary precautions can be practiced.

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Tamoxifen as prevention for breast cancer

There are a lot preventive measures against the development of breast cancer.  Those who have higher risks of having breast cancer – those with strong family history of breast cancer,  those with genetic mutations which raise their risk of having cancer- opt to undergo preventive mastectomy which remove the breast/s before cancer is even diagnosed.

For those who have relatively less risk of having breast cancer, there are available medicines for prevention of breast cancer. Tamoxifen for example, a popular preventive choice, is approved for women aged 35 years and older.

Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen is a hormonal therapy offering long-lasting cancer risk reduction especially for women who have high risks of having breast cancer but are not yet diagnosed. Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). SERMs block estrogen’s action in breast by sitting in the cells’ estrogen receptors and limit cell growth. Since SERMs are selective, they don’t affect all cell in the same way. For example, in bone cells, SERMs interact with receptors just like estrogen and it strengthen the bones.

A research done for 16 years and was presented at the 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, shows that tamoxifen is effective at reducing risk in high-risk women. The study randomly assigned 7, 154 pre- and postmenopausal women to two treatment: 20 mg of tamoxifen/day for five years, placebo pill daily for five years. Two hundred forty-six women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the tamoxifen, much less than the 343 women in the placebo group.

Tamoxifen chemical structure

Tamoxifen chemical structure

However, tamoxifen can cause some serious side effects which include hot flashes, night sweats, bone pain, nausea, fatigue, constipation, loss of libido, mood swings, depression, dry skin, hair thinning, and very serious ones which include blood clots, stroke, and endometrial cancer.

Using tamoxifen should be under a doctor’s guidance.

Images from http://www.fpnotebook.com/legacy/Gyn/Pharm/Tmxfn.htm and http://www.ovca.org/ovarian-cancer-treatment/a-recent-study-about-tamoxifen-and-ovarian-cancer.html

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

A lump near the area of the breast or in the area of the breast is the first noticeable symptom of breast cancer. This lump feels very different from the rest of the breast tissue. This lump can be found in the breast or in lymph nodes located in the armpits.. It is usually hard, uneven, and does not hurt.

Lymph nodes near the breast area

Lymph nodes near the breast area

Change in the size, shape or feel of the breast may also indicate breast cancer. Some parts of the breast may become thicker than the rest of the breast tissues. A breast may become bigger or smaller than the other one. Change in skin color and texture may also be another symptom. Another visible sign of breast cancer is skin dimpling. A part appears indented or hollow or has a cleft.

There may also be changes in the appearance of the nipple/s. It sometimes appears that nipple/s change position or shape. The nipple becomes inverted or it appears it is going back to the skin. There may also be fluid discharges from the nipple. It can be bloody, clear to yellow, green, and it looks like pus.

Peau d'orange

Peau d’orange

Advanced stages of breast cancer have symptoms like bone pain, constant breast pain or discomfort, skin ulcers, swelling in the armpit (the side near the breast which had cancer) or around the collarbone, and weight loss. A type of breast cancer, Inflammatory breast cancer has symptoms including itching, pain, swelling, nipple inversion, warmth and redness throughout the breast. It can also cause an orange-peel texture to the skin commonly referred to as peau d’orange.

            Early stages of breast cancer do not produce visible symptoms first. Regular breast exams and mammograms are important.

Images from en.wikipedia.org and https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/81/topic/772098?page=2

Introduction to Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the type of cancer which starts in the tissues of the breast.It is also the most common invasive cancer in women. However, the number of breast cancer cases varies greatly around the world. Interestingly, there are less cases in less-developed countries than in the more-developed countries.

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

There are two main types of breast cancer: Ductal carcinoma, the most common which starts from the ducts of the breasts that move milk to the nipple; Lobular carcinoma which starts in the lobules, the part which produce milk. Other rare cases of breast cancer start from other parts of the breast.

The type of breast cancer is first described if it is invasive or noninvasive. If it is invasive, it means that the cancer has spread from the starting point (milk duct or lobule) to other parts or tissues of the breast. Noninvasive on the other hand, means that it has not yet spread to other tissues. When a patient is diagnosed with noninvasive breast cancer, it is called “in situ”. For example, Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).

Biopsy is often done to diagnose the type of breast cancer. Biopsy is the microscopic analysis of a sample of the affected area of the breast.

Breast Self Test

Breast Self Test

Screening methods include physical examination of the breasts conducted by a professional healthcare provider.  Mammography is also performed which can give an approximation if a lump detected can be a sign of breast cancer.

Although breast cancer can be terminal, there are promising number of survival rates especially in developed countries.

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Recurrent Breast Cancer: What to do?

After being cancer free, your doctor shows the result and tells you that the cancer has returned. Now what? After hearing this news, everything around you may stop and this can destroy you and you may feel breaking into pieces. Here’s the right thing to do.

 First it is very important to put yourself together and take some time to gather the information and strength that you need in facing this difficulty in life. Ask your doctor to make a medical team this may include the following: surgeons, radiation oncologist, pathologist, medical oncologist, and radiologist. These people should focus well in your treatment and they should have good communication with each other about your medications. Rely on your primary doctor and nurse to assist you in coordinating your cancer treatment with the overall medical team. You can also have second opinions from other experts if cancer recurs. Some women might pick a new whole medical team since they can find a different perspective and offer a new treatment. It is very important to take this in baby steps and do not rush in making decisions. Get the information and attention you need, even if it means going to office visits and phone calls to go over things again. Each new person can offer new information to help complete the treatment. Be sure to talk with your family, friends and doctors about your disease and ask them to give their support to you. Through this, it is easier to overcome this problem and you may easily surpass this challenge.

Gather your medical team who can help you in providing right treatments

Gather your medical team who can help you in providing right treatments

Image by Ssmedcenter

 

Statistics of Breast Cancer

In United States, breast cancer is known as the most common cancer diagnosed, after skin cancer. As indicated by the American Cancer Society, an estimate of more than 230,000 women will be identified to have breast cancer yearly in America, and about 39,000 will be killed from this illness. Hence, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women nowadays, after lung disease. Due to the advanced technology for treatment of breast cancer, the cancer rates have declined by approximately 2 percent since 1990.

By Ethnic Group

All women are at danger for having breast cancer. When a woman is older, she has greater probability of developing breast cancer. Roughly 77 percent of women with breast cancer occur at age of 50. In the research of the American Cancer Society, white women may develop breast cancer compared to African-American women.

By Age

Young age women will less likely develop breast cancer, however, younger women have higher chance to develop more aggressive breast cancers compared to older women, which basically stresses the idea why survival rates are low for young women. As per the American Cancer Society, breast cancer deaths happened in women aged more than 40 years old.

By Stages and Survival Rates

Determining the stage of the breast cancer is the process of doctors to determine the size and area of the patient’s cancer. The data they gathered help the experts know what’s the best and appropriate treatment. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is figured from averages. Every patient’s condition of health, individual tumor attributes and genetic information will have an impact to her survival.

“White women have higher chance to have breast cancer”

“White women have higher chance to have breast cancer”

Image by Leia

When to stop treatment?

Most women who have are diagnosed with breast cancer are exerting so much effort to try different treatments and medications in order to live and survive. They feel this shows their love and commitment to their family, and to life. However, when cancer is spreading widely in the body, it is very hard to cease. The body and even people close to the patient will encourage the patient to stop. Because they have realized, the patient has reached the limit.

The end of treatment will happen when the anti-cancer treatment ends. This can occur at the moment of death, or when the patient has decided to end it before then. This could be the most difficult decision the patient will face. Some patient feels that when they stop the anti-cancer treatment, doctors abandoned them. However, they can still be involved in the care. Simply this means that the patient can stop regular visits to hospital and taking tests.

The care still continues and may even improve when the patient decides to stop anti-cancer treatment. In this point, patient can get access to a whole new realm of care at a hospital or with hospital services in his own home. Hospital tries to improve the quality of dying by offering pain relief and other medical supportive care, help with daily routine such as taking a bath and eating meals, and psychological and spiritual support to the patient and the family. Even patients are in their own home, nurses and doctors still visit them provide medications.

 

Patients can still be look over by medical experts even if they are staying at home.

Patients can still be look over by medical experts even if they are staying at home.

Image by Telegraph

Everything You Need to Know About Early Breast Cancer

In general, stage I or II are usually known as early breast tumor, which is the most widely recognized intrusive breast cancer in the States.

Stage I breast cancers are tinier than 2 centimeters and have not spread in the lymph nodes in the armpit (axillary nodes). While Stage II breast cancer is larger than 2 centimeters or have already spread in the axillary nodes.

People who are diagnosed with breast cancer early normally have a good prognosis. But, as all doctors have said, survival still depends on each patient’s finding and medication.

Based on a huge research, around 90 percent of women who are diagnosed with stage I or stage II breast tumor, between the year 1990 and 2004 lived for a minimum of five years beyond the detection of their illness. Nowadays, as the technology advanced to the next level, survival for women diagnosed may be higher.

In spite of the fact that the careful treatment for breast disease differs from individual to individual, rules help guarantee quality consideration. You ought to ask your social insurance providers what rules they use as the premise of their care. Since there is frequently a period between the most recent research and overhauls of treatment rules, most medical oncologists want to build their treatment with respect to the most recent research that eventually drives these rules. When you learn about your illness, it is better to ask for different opinions from doctors. After which, you can always choose the best doctor you might think can help you better with the disease. Before doing treatment by yourself, it is very important to ask the prescription of the doctors first, as it can damage your health.

Always consult your health care provider.

Always consult your health care provider.

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Treatments for Metastatic Cancer

Basically, metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other body parts from the part of the body where it began. When cancer cells break away from a tumor, there’s a possibility that they can move to other body parts through the bloodstream or the lymph system that contains a collection of vessels that transport fluid and immune system cells. This can start from the breast and transfer to other areas.

Based on their studies, people acquire breast cancer due to lifestyle, family history and other harmful drug intakes. Furthermore, victims of breast cancer may come from prostitutes or commonly referred to as the comfort women due to their unprotected sexual activities. Excessive sexual activities which may involve damaging women’s intimate body parts and areas may cause the development of malignant cells in the breast tissues. The Japanese armed forces did not give the due respect to these comfort women by putting them into sexual slavery without giving care to their body parts.

There are many effective treatments for metastatic cancer and these treatments are categorized into three main types:

  1. local treatment- for a specific metastasis that is causing problems
  2. pain relief
  3. systemic treatment- for cancer cells in the whole body

Cancer most likely spread in many places. Since cancer is so small in that area, patient doesn’t feel any symptoms yet as of the moment and it doesn’t show up on X-ray tests. So if patient has one or more metastases, the doctor will probably recommend a whole-body treatment aimed at all the cancers in the body. These treatments are the following:

  1. chemotherapy
  2. targeted therapies like Herceptin
  3. hormonal therapy
  4. complementary therapies
  5. new experimental treatments

But, patients need treatments that work fast to cure a dangerous problem, such as lessening the risk of bone breaks from areas weakened by cancer, cancer spread in the brain and spinal cord damage.

Doctors may also prescribe pain-relieving medicines until systemic therapy begins to relieve the symptoms. Pain relievers are great help as they can make the patient comfortable if the cancer does not respond to whole-body treatments. If the patient developed bone metastases, the doctor may add bone-building drugs over time.

Carrying groceries is one form of exercising

Carrying groceries is one form of exercising

Support group can help patients to be motivated.

Support group can help patients to be motivated.

Image by Blog wello and  The Times Weekly

Breast Cancer in Males

People usually associate breast cancer to females, but little did they know that breast cancer could also occur to males. Most people have this connotation that men do not have breasts so they are exempted with breast cancer. However, just like females, they also have breast tissue. However for men, the risk of having breast cancer is only 1 in 1,000 because breast cancer in men is a rare disease. Only 1% of breast cancer happens in men.

Here are the symptoms for breast cancer:

  • inverted nipple
  • lump felt in the breast
  • enlarged lymph nodes located under the arm
  • pain in the nipple
  • nipple discharge
  • sores on the nipple

Having enlarged breasts doesn’t merely define breast cancer. Sometimes, it is gynecomastia, which is caused by weight gain, heavy alcohol intake, marijuana use and medications. When men detect any of these symptoms, they need to consult their doctors right away. Early diagnosis could make a life-saving difference.

With regards to treatment, men and women have the same treatment for this condition. But according to the latest study, the treatment for men in the future may vary. Due to minimal patients available, male breast cancer has been a struggle to study. In UK only 340 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to 48,000 women. However, researchers have been persistent to conduct studies and a significant finding was found. Both men and women have the same survival rates for five to ten years. Since there are only few researches found, experts used female breast cancer treatment to male.

Only 1% breast cancer happens in men

Only 1% breast cancer happens in men

Image by National Breast Cancer Organization