Why Getting Mammograms Are Important
Breast cancer is a rapid, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both breasts. Right now it is the leading cause of death in women. Every year more than 211,000 American women are diagnosed with this disease, but if found early it can often be cured. As of today, there is no known cause of breast cancer. Hopefully the information in this paper will show the importance of going to the doctor and getting regular check ups. In this paper you will learn information about the breast, get a better understanding of the disease cancer, learn about the risk factors, find out what are the symptoms, learn about the staging and treatments for breast cancer. Today scientists are still doing research to find out exactly what causes this deadly disease called breast cancer. (Engel)
Femininity, sexuality, fashion or a source of nurturing new life are a few reasons why women love their breasts. For some women its body parts that is shrouded by custom and religious taboos and are never talked about in private or public. Many women don’t really know much about their own breasts. The breasts are made up of the following cells: adipose or fatty tissue; stroma (connective tissue); and epithelium, which form milk-producing glands and ducts. The glands and ducts supported and cushioned by the fat in your breasts. Blood and oxygen are supplied through the arteries, veins, and capillaries for the breast tissue, while lymphatic vessels drain extra fluid from breast tissue and aid the immune system. Sometimes in the armpit, lymphatic fluids are drained in the lymph nodes. (Baaron-Frost, 18)
The abnormal growth of cells is called cancer. On the vast collection of cells that our bodies contain, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes on each and every one. How the body should grow, function and behave is told by the millions of different messages that are told by the body from the chromosomes. A cancer cell has an abnormal chromosome from genetic change or damage. The altered gene starts sending the wrong message or at least a message different from the one it should give. One abnormal cell is when cancer starts. Then that cell becomes two and then so on and so on causing the cancer cell to spread. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called growth or tumor. Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not cancer. Rarely are these tumors life threatening. They can be removed and rarely do they grow back. Cells from benign tumors do not invade the tissues around them and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancer. These tumors are more serious and can be life threatening. They can be removed, but occasionally grow back. The cells from malignant tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Also those cells from this tumor can spread to other parts of the body. By breaking away from the original tumor and entering the bloodstream, cancer cells spread. The cells invade other organs and form new tumors that damage these organs. Metastasis is the spread of cancer. The cancer cells are often found in the lymph nodes near the breast when breast cancer cells spread. Breast cancer can also be found in the bones, liver, lungs and brain. (Holleb)
Those who are at high risk are not the only ones restricted to getting breast cancer. Here are a few of the biological risk factors for breast cancer that can not be controlled by women – such as increasing age, genes, mammographic breast density, levels of females hormones in the body, but there are some risk factors that can be controlled by women and they are diets, alcohol intake, exercise level and age of bearing children. If the mother, sister, daughter or grandmother have had cancer then your chances of getting the disease is doubled. Post-menopausal women that are heavy in weight or obese have a high risk of breast cancer. Estrogen and progesterone also shows clear evidence that too much of these hormones can increase the chance of breast cancer. A diet that is high in animal fats and rich in calories increases the chances of breast cancer, but a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease your chances of having breast cancer. You may have several of these risk factors that apply to you, so to be sure here are some symptoms that you can also watch for. A change in how the breast or nipple feels. A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area or nipple tenderness. A change in the looks of the nipple is also a symptom. The breasts size or shape may change, a nipple turned toward into the breast, or the skin of the breast, areola, or nipple may be scaly, red or swollen. It may have ridges or pitting so that it looks like the skin of an orange. Nipple discharge is also a symptom of breast cancer. Sometimes just because you may have these symptoms does not mean that you have cancer, but it is always good to go see your doctor so that if there are any problems they can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. (Holleb)
Your doctor needs to know the stage or extent of the disease in order to plan for your treatment. The size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread is how the doctors base the stage of the disease. This may involve x-rays and lab tests. By taking those tests, they can determine whether or not the cancer has spread and to what parts of the body has it spread. There are also many treatments for breast cancer. Surgery is one treatment. This is the most common treatment. Two types of surgery are Breast-sparing surgery and a Mastectomy. With getting the breast-sparing surgery the doctor will remove the cancer and not the breast. A mastectomy is an operation to remove the breast. In most cases, the doctor also removes the lymph nodes under the arm. After surgery, some women have radiation therapy. For Stage I and Stage II breast cancer, studies have found that there is an equal survival rate for either surgery. (Crile)
Breast cancer is scary to think about, but if you take care of your body and make regular check ups with your doctor, you should feel a bit a better about not getting the disease. Breast cancer knows no one, so don’t think that you cannot get it, because you can, whether you are young or old. I personally have had it affect my family. I had an aunt to die from the disease when she was only 35 and I also have an aunt that had it, but thankfully she went to doctor and they found it before it could spread all over, and now she has been cancer free for about five years. So my advice to every woman young or old go to the doctor and maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your risk level down to a minimum. I hope this paper has informed you enough to know what breast cancer is and how to check for the disease.
Baron-Faust, Rita. Breast Cancer: What Every Woman Should Know. New York: New York, 1995.
Crile, George Jr.,M.D.. What Women Should Know About The Breast Cancer Controversy. New York: New York, 1973.
Dollinger, Malin, M.D., Ernest H. Rosenbaum, M.D., and Greg Cable. Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy. Kansas City, 1997.
Engel, June PH. D. The Complete Breast Book. Canada, 1996.