Of all the diseases that afflict mankind especially women, breast cancer is one of the most dreaded. Despite significant advancement in the field of mastology (the medical science dealing with the breast and its diseases), this monster called breast cancer is still one of the leading causes of death among women. Because of the nature of the disease, to many having breast cancer is regarded as an automatic death sentence. But is this really so? Is any woman safe from getting this disease? Why and how does breast cancer start? Can anything be done to prevent it? How is it being treated now? You may be one of the many women worldwide asking these worrisome questions. Are there positive answers? YES, there are answers! And that is exactly what this article intends to achieve. No doubt after reading this article you would have gotten adequate knowledge about this foe called breast cancer and thereby have a realistic view of the disease.
Breast Cancer what is it all about?
Breast cancer is a disease in which one renegade cell inappropriately replicates itself again and again, producing millions of similarly affected self-replicating descendant cells which gradually formed a tumor. When tumor cells eventually invade other tissue then at that point a tumor turns cancerous. Some tumors grow quickly; others may take up to ten years before they are detected. Breast cancer is often detected as a strange lump. Such lumps are often fluid-filled sacks called cysts. Some cancer cells can break away from a tumor, travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system, and eventually overwhelm it. This spread, or metastasis, of cancer to vital organs and tissues such as: brain, liver, bone marrow, or the lungs is what turns the disease.
What causes breast cancer?
The causes of breast cancer remain a puzzle. This is because there is no single cause that has been established for breast cancer. However, according to recent research, breast cancer results from a complex, multistep process, starting from a faulty gene that causes cells to misbehave —to divide furiously, to invade other tissue, to evade capture by immune cells, and to launch stealthy attacks on vital organs. But where do such genes come from? Unfortunately, about 10 percent of women are born with these errant genes that predisposed them to breast cancer. In addition, research has shown that healthy genes can also be damaged by environmental factors such as radiation and chemicals.
Another risk factor that has also been shown to trigger breast cancer is the hormone estrogen. This hormone has been shown to stimulate certain breast cancers. Thus, a woman’s chances of having breast cancer may be increased if she began menstruating very early in life or went into menopause later than normal, if she had a late first pregnancy or no pregnancy at all, or if she had hormone replacement therapy. Furthermore, because fat cells produce estrogen, obesity may increase risk in postmenopausal women, whose ovaries have stopped producing hormones. Other hormones that may predispose someone to breast cancer include, high levels of the hormone insulin and low levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, a situation that is often seen among night workers. But you might ask why is the female breast so vulnerable?
To answer this question, we must understand the makeup of the female breast. Within it are ducts, tiny passageways, that channel milk from milk- producing sacs to the nipple. Lining the ducts are cells that divide and change continually in response to a woman’s monthly cycle, preparing her for pregnancy, lactation, and nursing her young. It is in these ducts where most breast cancers develop. It is exactly as Rose Kushner puts it any process that is constantly being interrupted is prone to greater risk of error. Explaining further in the book Alternatives: New Developments in the War on Breast Cancer Rose Kushner states that: “The overworked breast cell is always being bathed in some hormone that orders, ‘Stop doing that. Start doing this.’ No wonder so many of the daughter cells
Current treatment strategies in the fight against breast cancer
Due to several advances in the field of mastology and other biomedical sciences there are several options that patients can opt for depending on their individual circumstances such as age, health and family history. Some of the current treatment options available now includes, surgery (such as lumpectomy), chemotherapy, radiotherapy, drugs that target breast cancer stem cells survival pathway and cancer growth (these drugs can thereby prevent cancer cells resistance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy), there are also treatment that can be tailored towards individual tumors. Currently researchers are developing therapies that involve using the body’s own immune system at the same time improved imaging technologies have helped clinicians deliver radiation more precisely
Can this dreaded disease be prevented
It is estimated that 1 out of 3 cancers in the United States is caused by dietary factors. A good diet can help strengthen your body’s immune system (which recognizes and destroys abnormal cells) to maintain its guard against the inroads of cancer. Although there is no known food that can cure cancer, eating certain foods and cutting down on others can be preventive measures. According to Dr. Leonard Cohen of the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York. “Following the right diet could reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by up to fifty percent”.
Thus, at this juncture, you may ask what are the diets that can help prevent breast cancer? Researchers have suggested that eating foods rich in iron, such as lean meats, leafy green vegetables, shellfish, and fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables high in C reduce the risk of breast cancer, reports the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Soybeans and unfermented soy products contain genistein, known to suppress tumor growth in laboratory experiments. For more information on how diet can be your medicine in combating breast cancer you may read one of our articles that elaborated on this.
Furthermore, to prevent breast cancer and its complications researchers and clinicians have strongly recommended having regular medical checkups. This is because the key to successful control in cancer cases often lies in detecting it early. The sooner it is diagnosed, the more successfully it can be treated. In view of this, it is critical that all women pay attention and become familiar with the seven warning signals. If you have one or more of those signs, it can be beneficial to get professional
Breast cancer warning signals to look out for
1. Lump (either tiny or large) or thickening in the breast or armpit.
2. Dimpling, discoloration or puckering, of the skin of the breast.
3. Rashes or scaling of the nipple or escaping fluid other than breast milk from the nipple.
4. Turning or drawing back of the nipple.
5. Enlarged glands under the arm.
6. Changes in moles or incisions of the breast.
7. Marked asymmetry of breasts that is a change from normal.
Although breast cancer is a monster, however it is preventable. Afterall prevention is better than cure. For those battling with this foe there is no need to panic, you can win the battle. This is because when cancer is contained within the breast, the malignancy can be removed. However, if it is allowed to spread and invade other surrounding healthy tissues, it is called metastatic breast cancer. This is the most likely cause of death in breast- cancer patients. Once metastasis has begun, a woman’s life is in jeopardy. Therefore, a key to survival is detecting breast cancer early in its development before it has a chance to spread.