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Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, it accounts for one of every three diagnoses in the United States. Breast cancers are malignancies, life threatening tumors that develops in one or both breasts.

A female breast consists of fatty and fibrous connective tissues. The interior of the breast is divided into about twenty different sections called lobes. Each of the lobes is further divided in to lobules, which are structures that contain small milk-producing glands. These glands place the milk into tiny ducts. These ducts take the milk through out the breast and store in a chamber located below the nipple.

Breast cancer can either be invasive (spreading) or noninvasive (non-spreading). An invasive cancer penetrates the wall of a duct. This type of cancer is the most common, constituting about seventy percent of all cases. Infiltrating lobular cancer that spreads through a wall of a lobule accounts for about eight percent of all breast cancer. This type is likely to appear in both of the breast, often in seven separate locations.

The cause of breast cancer is unknown but researchers are suggesting that estrogen, a hormone produced by the ovaries, may be involved. Studied suggest that the longer a women is exposed to the hormone (i.e. If she starts to menstruate before the age of twelve or if she went through menopause after the age of fifty-five and/or had children after the age of thirty) are at a greater risk.

Recently two breast cancer susceptibility genes have been identified. The first one is BRCA1 (a flaw in this gene is common to those who have breast cancer) and the second is BRCA2 (a defect in this gene is associated with breast cancer alone). People who have a mutated BRCA1 gene have an eighty-six percent risk of developing breast cancer by the age of seventy.

Women are one hundred times more likely to get breast cancer than men. More than eighty percent of breast cancer occur in women over the age of fifty. At the age of forty her odds are one in two hundred and seventeen (217), and in women younger than thirty they account for only one and a half percent of all breast cancer cases. About five percent of all breast cancers are inherited. Those with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (i.e. mother, sister, and daughter) are two to three times the risk of the general population.

Women who take hormone replacement therapy for more than five years may also have an increased risk. This is because the therapy causes the density of the breast tissue to increase and mammograms may miss some sign of the cancer.

Chemicals are also suspected to cause breast cancer. Xenoestrogens are chemicals with estrogen-like effects, they are found in pesticides and other common industrial products. Other estrogen-like chemicals that have a stronger association with breast cancer include dieldrin and beta-hexachloraocyclohexane. Although these chemicals are very weak estrogens, one study showed that exposure to single weak-estrogen compounds isn't a big risk but a combination of two or more chemicals result in extremely high estrogenic

chemicals. Many women, who took diethylstilbestrol (DES) to prevent miscarriages, increased the risk for breat cancer in their children.

There are lost of ways to prevent cancer or try to prevent it. One of these is reducing your fat intake. One study shows that the result of this is that the level of estrodiol, the potent form of estrogen decreases. Another way to fight breast cancer is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables contain chemicals that may be cancer fighters. A concentrated form of limonene, a substance found in citrus skins, has been found to shrink breast cancer in animals. Some studies have shown that if you breast-fed for more than four months it lowers your risk of the cancer. In a recent study women who have underwent breast reduction have a low risk of getting breast cancer by forty percent.

There are symptoms that you can look for to help detect breast cancer. When looking for some of these symptoms you should check your breast for a change of size or shape, dimpling on the skin, or a lump. You should check your nipple for a lump if the nipple is inverted. Also check if there is a blood stained discharge or a rash on the nipple. Swelling in the armpit is also a symptom.

Breast cancer has four major stages. Stage 0 breast cancer includes ductal or lobular carcinoma or Paget's disease with no evidence of a tumor. Stage 1 breast cancer includes tumors up to two centimeters but no larger than that. There is no spread of the cancer at this stage. Stage 2A breast cancer includes a tumor no larger than two centimeters, which has spread to lymph nodes in the armpit on the same side of the involved breast. Stage 2B breast cancer includes a tumor from two to five centimeters at its largest dimension, spread to the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side of the involved breast. Stage 3A breast cancer includes five grouping of tumors measuring two to five centimeters and with various stages of spreading to the lymph nodes on the same side of the affected breasts. There may be no evidence of a primary tumor but cancer is detected in lymph nodes under an arm that are fixed to a structure or to each other. Stage 3B breast cancer includes tumors of any size that have extended directly to the chest wall or skin and any lymph node involvement. Stage 4 breast cancer includes any size tumor any lymph node involvement and spreading to distant sites, including the lymph nodes along the collar bone.

If you think that you have a suspicious lump in your breast or if you just want to check your breasts there are tests for you to do so. One of these tests is to get a mammogram. This is a x-ray technique to examine the breast to detect any cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that uses magnetism to build up cross-sectional pictures of your body. During the test you are asked to lie very still on a couch inside a long chamber for up to an hour. Ultrasounds are also used to test for cancer. A special gel is spread onto the breasts and a small device, which emits sound waves, is passed over the area. The echo's are converted into a picture of the breast tissue by a computer. A new type of ultrasound, high-definition imaging, shows a clear



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