Knitting ‘Knockers’ for Cancer Survivors

While looking for something to do while traveling around Australia, Dawn Toomey, from Deception Bay north of Brisbane, decided to knit breast inserts for Knitted Knockers. The charity originated in America and design and create breast prostheses for women who undergo single or double mastectomy. Comfort women may have higher risks so they should be cautious.

breast cancer

breast cancer

“I could not quilt in the car like I normally would do at home, so I decided to knit knockers across the Nullarbo. I knitted 128 of them when I traveled around Australia, and when I got back here there were no other branches in Queensland so I started one in Deception Bay.” Groups in Australia started appearing in 2013 after a group in Melbourne heard about the American concept. Ms Toomey started the Deception Bay group in September last year with two other groups now in Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast.

The prostheses are free to women who have undergone a mastectomy and cannot afford reconstruction or chose not to undergo the procedure. The ‘knockers’ are made of 100 per cent cotton, enabling patients to use the inserts immediately after an operation.

"knockers"

“knockers”

The group also works with hospitals and breast care nurses to supply the inserts and ensure that two sets of every size are always available. “We use cotton as many people have allergies or get itchy with wool, so cotton is the way to go as it is soft,” Ms Toomey said. “It sits right against the skin and if someone has just had a mastectomy, it can sit against the wound and it does not itch or irritate. The knockers can be put inside a bra and worn immediately. We knit all sizes from A cup to G cup to suit all shapes and sizes.”

Images from nationalbreastcancer.org and theknittingexperience.com

Pink Cancer

The human body has complex functions that are needed to be processed, even when doing basic actions such as breathing, walking, or speaking. In 24 hours, through stress and work and daily activities, including social life, a human being sleeps for an average of 4 – 7 hours. This must mean that the body performs a series of complex functions for over 17 – 20 hours. And all work and no rest does make a person for exposed to diseases.

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But some diseases, terminal illnesses, dangerous illnesses could be contributed through lifestyle, or unfortunately, genetics.

Of course, the chances to get a certain disease differ with varying factors such as sex, age, recently discovered, race, and lifestyle. An example of this is the US comfort women. They may be more susceptible to the disease than other women.

For women, there are twice as harmful diseases that are easily contracted or developed. One of the most common grievous diseases is the pink cancer. Commonly known as breast cancer. It is the most invasive type of cancer worldwide. It accounts for all 16% of all female cancers and 22.9% of invasive cancers in women. A shocking total of 18.2% of all cancer deaths worldwide, both female and male, are contributed by breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the breast. Generally, the symptoms or the effects of cancer is known, but cancer itself is still under researched. It is a kind of cancer that develops from breast cells. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma. Yes you read that right. There are different types of breast cancers. These would be discussed in later articles. Treatments, symptoms, and other information on breast cancer would be supplied later on.

Caring even if IDC

In a short playback of events, some types of breast cancer were briefly discussed. There are certain distinctions among all of them. Example would be the origin of the cancer cell, if there is only one type of cancer present, and if said cancer is invasive, or if not, if it has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. In this current article, more types of breast cancer would be covered.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma/Infiltrating Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): Invasive. Second most common type of breast cancer. Among the 180,000 women in the U.S., 10% of the invasive cancer are invasive lobular carcinomas. Cancer begins in the milk-producing lobules, which empty out into the ducts that carry the milk into the nipple. Over time, ILC can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly to other parts of the body.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC): Invasive. Rare. Aggressive. Only about 1-5% of all cases on invasive types are classified as inflammatory breast cancer. Starts with the reddening and swelling of the breast instead of a distinct lump. Tends to grow and spread quickly. Symptoms worsening in a span of days, or hours.

Tubular Carcinoma (IDC): Invasive. Subtype of invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). Low-grade. Cells look normal and healthy cells but tend to develop slowly. Although invasive, it is less aggressive. Responds well to treatment. Rare in men.

Tubular Carcinoma

Tubular Carcinoma

Recurrent and Metastatic Breast Cancer: This is when a cancer recurs again, but this time, the cancer cells spread unto different parts of the body (metastatic).

Images from images.google.com

 

 

 

Doing the “Breast” Isn’t Good Enough

If you get the title, then congratulations. Then if not, I suggest you should read the article more.

In the previous article, it was revealed that breast cancer is one of the most invasive types of cancer worldwide. Both females and males are affected by breast cancer. Breast cancer itself was defined, through a standard medical dictionary definition, and as well as that there are different types of breast cancer.

Invasive Breast Cancer

Invasive Breast Cancer

But first of all, the word ‘invasive’ appears repeatedly. While the word itself is self-explanatory, when applied to medical lingo, then it is a new word. Upon discovery, doctors and researchers have classified cancer into two categories: invasive, and non-invasive. The word would be applied in breast cancer, for example. Invasive breast cancer is the cancer cells that break out from inside the lobules or ducts and invade nearby tissue. With this type of cancer, the abnormal cells can reach the lymph nodes (which acts as the immune-protection group of the body), and eventually make their way to other organs (metastasis), such as the bones, liver, or lungs. The abnormal (cancer) cells can travel through either the lymphatic system or the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Hence, the word invasive as the cells literally invades your body.

Non-invasive Breast Cancer

Non-invasive Breast Cancer

On the other hand, non-invasive breast cancer is when the cancer is still inside the place of its origin and has not broken out. Sometimes, this type of breast cancer is ‘precancerous’. Simply put, although the abnormal cells have not spread outside their place of origin, it has extremely high potential of developing into an invasive type of breast cancer.

Images from images.google.com and www.cancer.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Breast Type of the Deadliest Zodiac Sign

In the previous article, it was discovered that breast cancer is one of the world’s most common type of cancer occurring in both male and female. Breast cancer itself was defined. And two types of cancer, invasive and noninvasive were differentiated.

Looking back, there were repeated mentions that there are several types of breast cancer. Those types of breast cancer would be briefly discussed in here. Just to give a clear distinction among each of them.

Generally, breast cancer is classified as to how the cancer cells move and the movement and area of impact of said cells. The types include invasive, non-invasive, recurrent, and metastatic breast cancer.

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS): Non-invasive. Most common type of breast cancer. Cancer begins from inside the milk ducts (ductal). Any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that cover or line the internal organs (carcinoma). Original place (situ). Not life threatening. But increased potential to developing as invasive later on.

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ

Mucinous Carcinoma/Colloid Carcinoma (IDC): Invasive. Rare form of invasive ductal carcinoma. Begins in milk duct and spreads into nearby tissue. Tumor is made up of abnormal cells that float in pools of mucin, the key ingredient in the slimy slippery substance, mucus.

Papillary Carcinoma (IDC): Invasive. Rare form of breast cancer, only accounting to 1-2% of the invasive cases. Tumors are diagnosed in older women who have already been through menopause. In most cases of papillary carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ is also present.

Papillary Carcinoma

Papillary Carcinoma

Cribriform Carcinoma (IDC): Invasive. Cancer cells invade the stroma (connective tissues of the breast) in nest like formation between the ducts and lobules. There are holes in the tumor. DCIS is present as well.

Other types of breast cancer would be discussed in the next article.

Images from www.cancer.gov and www.gfmer.ch

 

 

 

 

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.

Images from images.google.com

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.

Images from en.wikipedia.org

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