.. tive risk of breast cancer. Those who have more than nine drinks a week have an increase of two and a half times the rate of breast cancer for a non-drinking person. In 1987, the National Cancer Institute published a report comparing 1524 women with breast cancer against a control group of 1896 without the disease. Again, alcohol appeared to promote breast cancer (Risk Factors for Breast Cancer).
Several medical procedures or side effects of them have been thought to promote breast cancer. It was hypothesized that self-induced abortions could greatly increase the chances of getting cancer, as during pregnancy the cells in the breast quickly divide and reproduce. By having an abortion and thus suddenly halting cell division, a number of cells would become greatly unprotected by there not being any differentiation, and thus would be vulnerable to cancer (Risk Factors for Breast Cancer). Radiation has also been thought of, and for all thorough purposes has been proven to be a cause of breast cancer. There have been three major studies that have been done concerning radiation. The first was performed around the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It was quickly ascertained that within a ten mile radius of the bombing there was a definite cancer zone. More importantly, younger people got much more cancer, especially with regards to breast cancer, than did older ones. This forces more weight on the theory that the changing years of the breasts in women are their most vulnerable and possibly cancer causing ones (Risk Factors for Breast Cancer). Prevention is one point of the attempt to cure breast cancer, but it is extremely important to get breast examinations often to make sure of no lumps or early tumors. The simplest forms of breast exam are a self-exam, one with a doctor, or a mammography. A mammogram is simply an X-ray of the breast.
Mammography can pick up small lesions of under one half a centimeter, whereas one can not feel a lump until it is a full centimeter in diameter. But, if breasts are small or dense, a mammogram might not be able to detect a cancerous lump. Another procedure could be a wire localization. A thin wire is used to show where the lesion is after the wire is inserted, and local anesthetic is administered. Thermography is based on the idea that cancer gives off more heat than regular cells.
Transillumination is founded in the concept that light shines through breast tissue, but is blocked by lumps. An ultrasound is the use of high frequency sound waves, which are sent off in a radar fashion, and reflect off objects that they hit. A CAT scan is the process of visually cutting the body into cross-sections (Guidelines for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer, 1999). Another controversy runs deep in the issue of using CAT scans to find cancer tissue. The radiation required to examine a five milliliter lump is often considered simply too high for safety, and has a possibility of just simply spreading the cancer to other body parts.
A MRI takes advantage of the electromagnetic qualities of the hydrogen nucleus to produce an electric chart or visual. While the most common form of breast exam is mammography, there are many critics of that procedure. Cancer patients have said that the mammogram is often uncomfortable and takes too much time. Younger women are at increased risk for biologically more aggressive carcinoma, meaning that the future battle for curing cancer is not getting any easier. Cancer growths are dependant upon the growth of blood vessels to nurture the cancer cells.
New drugs are being developed to stop the growth of cancer cells by preventing nourishment of the cancers by new blood vessels. By cutting off the blood supply to the cells, they die, and thus are eliminated from the system (Guidelines for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer, 1999). Chemotherapy involving tamoxifen has proved useful in delaying breast cancer recurrence, but the majority of patients treated with Tamoxifen eventually go into relapse. Traditionally, there are three types of cancer treatments: radiation, mastectomy, and cytotoxic chemotherapy. The type of surgery really has its basis on the size of the tumor. A lumpectomy removes the tumor and surrounding tissues.
A simple mastectomy removes the breast, nearby lymph nodes, and portions of the chest and arms (Treatment). Doctors can also perform preventative mastectomies. Some surgeons feel that if the breast is fairly lumpy, and the patient appears to be at very high risk of breast cancer, the surgery may be beneficial. The whole surgery is highly controversial. Both doctors and patients generally prefer a total bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.
This removal takes out the entire breast including the nipple and duct system so that there can be little chance of relapse (Treatment). There are various treatments aimed at killing the cancerous cells- from surgically removing that area of the body to killing them off by use of chemicals. A very common procedure is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is an antibiotic designed to kill rapidly dividing cells. Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies that can be engineered to carry drugs or radiation directly to the tumor, and is an efficient way of delivering chemotherapy to the body. Another adaptation that has been added to chemotherapy is the use of genes that are chemo-resistant.
One treatment involves stem cell transplantation. Stem cells are often referred to as master cells, and they seem to carry antibodies that rapidly reproduce which fight malignancies, and may be able to fight cancer. One solution to cancer may be hormone therapy (Treatment). The hormone, usually tamoxifen, slows growth of cancer cells by blocking some growth enhancing properties of estrogen. The controversy over Tamoxifen is that it might cause other types of cancer.
In 1989, the National Cancer Institute ran a test in which women took a placebo or Tamoxifen. Women with the drug were less likely to develop cancer of the breast, but they were more likely to develop blood clots, ovarian cancer, or breast cancer (Tamoxifen). One complication that can result in cancer is Ductal Carcinoma Insitu. The ductal area houses the lobules and ducts and is the area in which milk is produced. Similar to rust clogging up pipes, often extra cells or cancerous cells will clog up the tubes providing for some discomfort and other risks.
Studies show that 20-25% of women with untreated DCIS will get invasive cancer within 10 years (American Cancer Society, 1999: 7). As the twentieth century comes to an end, breast cancer continues to be a devastating killer in the new millennium. Breast cancer takes the lives of our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and our friends. Although progress is being made through research, early detection is all we can do to possibly prevent breast cancer. Women should learn to do a self-examination at a young age, and should continue throughout their lives.
If a lump is found a professional should be contacted. If people work together, maybe sometime soon a cure will be found (Breast Cancer, 1991). Bibliography Breast Cancer. The World Book Encyclopedia. Volume 2; 601.
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