Breast Cancer: Risks, Detection, and Impact

In order to gain an insight into breast cancer, it is imperative that it is analyzed in light of three perspectives. These perspectives are: the risk factors of breast cancer, the methods that exist for the early detection of breast cancer, and the impacts of breast cancer upon the patient. These three perspectives have been given a considerable degree of attention in the recent researches into breast cancer.

If one was to define breast cancer, it is clear that fundamentally, breast cancer is nothing more than a malevolent growth that initiates and takes root in the tissues of the breast, which is why it is referred to as breast cancer. Like all general forms of cancer, breast cancer also pertains to the irregular and uncontrolled growth of cells in the patient in the effected region of the body. Even though the general perception pertains that breast cancer is limited to woman, the perception is only partially valid since there is no doubt that the frequency of breast cancer is much larger in women than it is in men, however breast cancer is not entirely limited to women in any way since men can also develop breast cancer.

Breast cancer is perceived to be one of the major health challenges for healthcare systems of countries around the world. Statistics show that the number of women who die because of breast cancer is so unexpectedly staggering that there is no rationale through which breast cancer can be given any less degree of importance than more directly severe and life threatening illnesses. In Australia, over two thousand woman died because of breast cancer in 2005 alone (National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, 2006). The risk factors of breast cancer increase with age. For example 24 per cent of breast cancer cases identified in 2002 were in women younger than 50 years; 50 per cent in women aged 50-69; and 26 per cent in women aged 70 and over(National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, 2006). Now that an introductory perception of breast cancer has been developed, before moving on to the methods that are used to carry out the detection of breast cancer in potential patients of the illness, the following paragraphs shall attempt to elaborate upon the risk factors that pertain to breast cancer. In doing so, the paper takes a generalized look at patients of breast cancer around the world.

Concerning risks of contracting Breast Cancer the causes and elements that can lead to the contraction of breast cancer by a patient can be categorized as risks for breast cancer acquisition. The most common of these risk factors are those which are recognized for the fact that they are hardly preventable because of the degree of deep rootedness that exists in the case of these particular risk factors. Risk factors such as these include age, race, family history, breast cellular changes and radiation therapy. There is hardly any control that the medical sciences have been able to acquire as yet upon these risk factors whereas risk factors such as weight, diet and breast feeding are risk factors that are relatively easier to gain control over.

In case of the risk factor of weight, there is however a fine print to the degree of control. This complexity exists in the fact that once a woman has crossed menopause, it becomes considerably difficult to gain control over the breast cancer and treat it. Generally, the excessive weight in a patient can be attributed to elements such as excessive eating supplemented by inadequate physical exertion or a poor diet. However, studies have shown that it is only certain types of food that cause breast cancer to take place. For instance, it is recommended that patients who show signs for the potential of breast cancer choose to avoid the consumption of foods can serve as sources of either red meat or other animal fats. This is because meat contains a significant amount of cholesterol and research has shown that cholesterol has been known to contribute to the chances of the development of breast cancer in women. It is therefore suggested that women adopt a low fat diet, one that is primarily based on the consumption of fruits and vegetables instead of meat. Also, it is suggested that women engage in breast feeding their children since it serves to reduce the chances of the development of breast cancer as well. It is recommended that after the birth of a child, the woman breast feeds the child from one to two years.

With regard to risk factors that cannot be controlled, one of the most significant is that of age. From the age of thirty to thirty nine, the risk of the contraction of breast cancer is one in every two hundred and thirty three, or forty three percent to be more precise. Another similar risk factor is that of race. It has been observed that Anglo Saxon women have relatively more chances of acquiring breast cancer. For instance, women who are of any one of Hispanic, Asian or Native American origin have a relatively lesser. It is at this point that it is essential to realize that family history also has a major role in the possibility of the development of breast cancer. Women who have had multiple family members who have been affected by breast cancer are more likely to develop breast cancer.

This risk factor is followed by its degree of risk by the factor which focuses on the abnormal developments of tissue growth in the breast. Abnormal changes in breast cells can happen during a breast biopsy (removal of suspicious tissue for examination under a microscope). This may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. These changes comprise overgrowth of cells called hyperplasia or unusual and atypical appearance.

Fifthly, when radiation therapy is subjected to the chest region in a tender age for treatment of other cancer developments, it serves to bring about an increase in the risk of the development of breast cancer. The rise in risk seems to be largest if the radiation was given while the breasts were in a developing phase during the teen years.

However, risk factors cannot be taken to be a guarantee of anything. The presence of risk factor does not mean that they will necessarily experience the disease. As a matter of fact, the majority of women, who have single or more breast cancer risk factors, do not develop the disease. This is so because there have also been cases where many women have been found to suffer breast cancer even though no clear risk factors were present. Even when a woman experiences risk factors, it is difficult to understand of these factors may add to her cancer (, 2008).

The Early detection of breast cancer can help to cut down the risk factors. There are many different ways that be used to detect if there is a change in the breast tissue structure. Firstly, breast self- examination (BSE) is the considered to be the easiest way for the detection of breast cancer. It is recommended that the BSE is performed continually every month beginning at age 20 (, 2009). In this case it is mandatory that women should know what their breast looks like because the core of this detection technique lies in the noticing of any change that may have occurred that is unnatural or out of the ordinary. For instance, skin dimpling, color change in skin and an apparent change in the shape of the nipple are factors that should be considered primarily. If any changes are detected, the subject is advised to refer to a doctor as soon as possible because it only when breast cancer is successfully diagnosed at an early point when it has a strong chance to be treated and for the patient to completely recovers. It is therefore better to detect breast cancer as soon as possible rather than to wait for damaging signs (womenshealth, 2008).

Mammography is another way for detecting breast cancer, and it has come to a point where it is now considered to be one o the most effective ways to carry out breast cancer detection. However, it is different from self examination because it is has to be performed by a qualified professional. Mammography is a type of imaging that uses an x-ray system to check the breasts. The actual examination that is used to carry out this detection technique is referred to as the mammogram. The mammography takes 15 minutes to process; it examines from side to side and from top to bottom (, 2008) Mammography can detect changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or doctor feels them. That is why mammography is the best examination for early detection (radiologyinfo, 2009). It is better to be done once a year for women aged 40 or older (, 2009). Many thousands of lives are saved every year because of this particular early detection test.

Clinical examination is another way of detecting breast cancer. Not only a doctor but nurses as well can be trained to be able to clinically examine breasts. Any one of two techniques can be used in the clinical examination for detection of breast cancer. The first one is when the patient is sitting up and the other way is when the patient is lying down (, 2008). It is taken to be a more efficient technique of detection than breast self examination. A clinical examination comprises inspection and feeling of the whole breast rejoin comprising of the lymph node rejoins around the collarbone and under each arm (imaginis, 2008). Clinical breast exams should be done every three years for women aged 20-30 however, for women aged 40 and above it is required that the clinical breast exam is carried out every year because they are at a higher risk of contracting it (, 2009).

We can therefore surmise that there are different types of examinations for breast cancer ranging from mammography to self examination. The number of types of breast examination can be taken to be proof of the fact that it is very important that women, especially women in risk categories, to undertake one or the other type of breast examination with considerable frequency.

With regard to the impacts of breast cancer, we can surmise from the degree of concern that is given to the detection and prevention of breast cancer that the implications of breast cancer are of a nature that make it worthy of being given all this attention. Perhaps one of the main reasons because of which breast cancer is given such a degree of concern is the fact that it is a form of cancer that can cause death without the shadow of a doubt if it is not diagnosed at an early enough phase in the development of the cancer. Besides these, it is also a side effect of the treatment of breast cancer that the patient more than often has to be exposed to radiation that serves to worsen the condition of the patient even further.

What comes as one of the few implications of breast cancer that is the most horrifying of them all is that in order for the cancer to be removed, the patients breast has to be removed altogether in the case of a woman, this leads to sever trauma and suffering in the patient. Also, a breast cancer patient, if chooses to consider the option of chemotherapy, then the process is highly painful and strenuous upon the health of the patient and very few patients manage to survive the ordeal.

List of References

  1. National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, 2006, Statistics and research.
  2. American Cancer Society. Detailed Guide: Breast Cancer. 2008.
  3. Improving Methods for Breast Cancer Detection and Diagnosis, 2002.
  4. Breast Awareness and Breast Self-Exam, 2008.
  5. Mammography, 2009. Web.
  6. Guidelines Women Should Follow for Early Detection of Breast Cancer, 2008.
  7. Mammography, 2008.
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