Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer that affects women all over the world. The disorder is caused by unexpected variations and mutations in genes that are responsible for normal cell development. Tumors in the body may be malignant or benign, with the former often associated with cancer growth. Malignant cells have the ability to migrate to other areas of the body if left unchecked. Breast cancer is a type of malignant tumor that occurs from the cells of the breast (Vant et al. 2002). Breast cancer attacks the lobules first, then the ducts in the early stages. In a few rare cases, cancer develops from the stromal tissues. Reported cases of breast cancers have been on the rise over the past years with women from low and middle-income countries accounting for 60% of the reported cases (Smigal et al., 2006). Developed nations like the US and Britain have improved services like screening mammography hence the early detection that saves lives.
Common Signs and Symptoms
At the early stages, a woman notices changes in the breast. These changes do not go away even after performing the monthly breast exams. Other common signs of the disease include changes in the nipples shape and breast pains that do not go away even after periods. There can also be lumps that stay for a long period and at times characterized by nipple discharge that is either brown or yellow. In some cases, the breast swells with an abnormal redness that causes skin irritation. Lumps that have irregular edges tend to be cancerous, and patients are advised to pay attention to the shapes (Rangayyan et al., 2007). At a later stage of the disease, the nipple can retract, the breasts enlarge, and the lump gets bigger. The lymph nodes located at the armpit can also enlarge, and an abnormal vasodilation of veins on the breast noted. Having a few of these symptoms is not an indicator of a breast cancer because other forms of infections can cause some symptoms like nipple discharges.
There are a number of treatment options for breast cancer depending on the stage of infection and the type of the cancer (Bradley et al., 2002). Local treatment involves the treatment of the disease without affecting other parts of the body. The treatment commonly involves radiation therapy and surgery. Systematic treatment, on the other hand, entails reaching all the cancer cells wherever they might be located in the body. The treatment involves the administration of drugs either through the mouth or the bloodstream through injections. The most common types of treatment under this category are targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. In some cases, women might be subjected to more than one cancer treatment option.
In most cases, women prefer surgeries to remove the tumor. At advanced stages of the disease, more than one type of treatment might be used. The type of treatment is often dictated by the type of breast cancer which includes, triple-negative breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, invasive breast cancer, and lobular carcinoma in situ. Breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists can do the treatment of the disease. There are other professionals within and without the medical field that take part in the treatment plans. They include psychologists, nurses, physicians and genetic counselors.
Prevention of cancer is a concept that is often misunderstood by patients. Prevention entails keeping the chances of contracting the disease at the bare minimum (Reeder & Vogel, 2008). Preventive measures are reported to be effective in reducing the number of reported cases in the population. Preventive measures often concentrate on the risk factors and seek various ways to keep them low. Besides, scientific researches also emphasize the needs to understand the protective factors that decrease the chances of contracting the disease. Some risk factors are avoidable like smoking cigarettes are avoidable while others cannot be avoided like the inheritance of cancer-causing genes. Professionals in the medical field advise people to exercise regularly and take healthy diet as some of the basic protective measures to keep breast cancer away.
People are also advised to change their lifestyles and their eating habits that increase the chances of contracting the disease. Whenever pre-cancerous conditions are detected in the body, victims are advised to seek immediate medical attention that guarantees the prevention of cancer development. The populations is also adviced to keep researching about the newly discovered cases of breast cancer in order to inform their lifestyle choices for a healthy living. The collective approach in facing the breast cancer is being adopted across the world with joint researches done to discover more about the disease and the other possible treatment measures that can be adopted. The WHO health organization is leading individual states health practitioners in their effort to spread the message across the globe and sensitize nations on the need to address the rising cases of breast cancers.
Bradley, C. J., Given, C. W., & Roberts, C. (2002). Race, socioeconomic status, and breast cancer treatment and survival. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 94(7), 490-496.
Rangayyan, R. M., Ayres, F. J., & Desautels, J. L. (2007). A review of computer-aided diagnosis of breast cancer: Toward the detection of subtle signs. Journal of the Franklin Institute, 344(3), 312-348.
Reeder, J. G., & Vogel, V. G. (2008). Breast cancer prevention. In Advances in Breast Cancer Management, Second Edition (pp. 149-164). Springer US.
Smigal, C., Jemal, A., Ward, E., Cokkinides, V., Smith, R., Howe, H. L., & Thun, M. (2006). Trends in breast cancer by race and ethnicity: update 2006. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 56(3), 168-183.
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