All about breast cancer : A Ray of Hope
All about breast cancer
While there are things every woman can do to help her body stay as healthy as possible (such as eating a balanced diet, not smoking, minimizing stress, and exercising regularly), breast cancer is never anyone's fault. Keeping the same in mind, there is a need for active participation to enlighten the women about this killer disease.
It is surprising but true that in every three minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the second most common form of cancer amongst women. As per the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the world in the year 2004.
Like in all parts of body, the cells in the breasts also grow and then rest in cycles which are controlled by genes in the cellís nucleus. When the genes are in good working order, they keep cell growth under control but if the genes develop an abnormality and lose their ability to control the cycle of cell growth and rest, cause cancer. So breast cancer is nothing but uncontrolled growth of breast cells.
Whoís at risk?
The exact causes of breast cancer are still not known but studies show that the risk of breast cancer increases as a woman gets older. But there are certain conditions which increase a womanís chance of getting breast cancer. The most important is personal history of breast cancer. Women who have had breast cancer face an increased risk of getting this cancer on the other breast. Family history: The risk for developing breast cancer increases if mother, sister, and first blood relation aunts had breast cancer, especially at a young age.
Late child bearing: Women who deliver the first child after the age of thirty have the greater chance of developing breast cancer than women who have child at younger age.
Evidence suggests that the longer a woman is exposed to estrogen (estrogen made by the body, taken as a drug, or delivered by a patch), the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. For example, the risk is somewhat increased among women who began menstruation at an early age (before age 12), experienced menopause late (after age 55), never had children, or took hormone replacement therapy for long periods of time. Each of these factors increases the amount of time a woman's body is exposed to estrogen.
Certain breast changes:
Having a diagnosis of a typical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) may increase a woman's risk for developing cancer.
Breasts that have a high proportion of lobular and ductal tissue appear dense on mammograms. Breast cancers nearly always develop in lobular or ductal tissue (not fatty tissue). That's why cancer is more likely to occur in breasts that have a lot of lobular and ductal tissue (that is, dense tissue) than in breasts with a lot of fatty tissue. In addition, when breasts are dense, it is more difficult for doctors to see abnormal areas on a mammogram.
Women whose breasts were exposed to radiation during radiation therapy before the age of 30, especially those who were treated with radiation for Hodgkin's disease, are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer. Studies show that the younger a woman was when she received her treatment, the higher her risk for developing breast cancer later in life.
Some studies suggest a slightly higher risk of breast cancer among women who drink alcohol.
Most women who develop breast cancer have none of the risk factors listed above, other than the risk that comes with growing older. Scientists are conducting research into the causes of breast cancer to learn more about risk factors and ways of preventing this disease.
In India, various NGOs are working for fighting cancer and one among them is Krishna Breast Cancer Care Charitable Trust (KBCCT). From organising free cancer detection camp to counseling patients and providing them with adequate treatment, KBCCT has been doing it all from past two years. Till date, they have organised 11 camps in various places and treated 25 patients.
KBCCT was formed by Sanjeev Arora, managing director of Ritesh Properties & Industries Ltd., in the memory of his mother late Krishna Arora who left this world due to this deadly disease. KBCCT is one trust, thatís working towards eradicating this disease right from its roots. Like them there is a need that we all should come forward and give our helping hand in order to spread awareness and work towards this noble cause.
Generally, early breast cancer usually does not cause pain. In fact, when breast cancer first develops, there may be no symptoms of breast cancer at all. But as the cancer grows, it can cause changes that women should watch for:
>> A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
>> A change in the size or shape of the breast
>> Nipple discharge or tenderness, or the nipple pulled back (inverted) into the breast
>> Ridges or pitting of the breast (the skin looks like the skin of an orange)
>> A change in the way the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple looks or feels (for example, warm, swollen, red, or scaly)
A woman should see her doctor about any symptoms like these. Most often, they are not cancer, but it's important to check with the doctor so that any problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
Diagnosing breast cancer
Clinical breast exam:
The doctor can tell a lot about a lump by carefully feeling it and the tissue around it. Benign lumps often feel different from cancerous ones. The doctor can examine the size and texture of the lump and determine whether the lump moves easily.
Mammography: X-rays of the breast can give the doctor important information about a breast lump.
Ultrasonography: Using high-frequency sound waves, ultrasonography can often show whether a lump is a fluid-filled cyst (not cancer) or a solid mass (which may or may not be cancer).This exam may be used along with mammography.
Surgery is usually the first line of attack against breast cancer. There are two types of surgeries involved in breast cancer i.e. Mastectomy which is the removal of all the breast tissues and Lumpectomy also known as breast conserving surgery is the removal of only the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissues.
Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy;this means it affects the whole body by going through the bloodstream. The purpose of chemotherapy and other systemic treatments is to get rid of any cancer cells that may have spread from where the cancer started to another part of the body.
The side effects of chemotherapy come about because cancer cells aren't the only rapidly dividing cells in your body. The cells in your blood, mouth, intestinal tract, nose, nails, vagina, and hair are also undergoing constant, rapid division. This means that the chemotherapy is going to affect them, too.
It is also called radiotherapy ó is a highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells in the breast that may stick around after surgery.Radiation can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 50% to 66%. Despite what many people fear,radiation therapy is relatively easy to tolerate and its side effects are limited to the treated area.
A Ray of Hope