Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in women, with approximately 180,000 new cases developed each year in the United States. The disease can also occur in men, although they account for less than one in 100 breast cancer cases. Up to one in 10 cases of breast cancer is linked to an abnormal gene, and several of these genes have now been identified.
What are the causes?
The underlying cause of breast cancer is unclear. However some of the risk factors that have been identified suggest the female hormone estrogen is an important factor in the development and progress of the disease. You may be at risk if you:
- Began menstruating before age 11
- Had a child after age 30
- Are obese, particularly if you are older, because excess body fat causes an increase in estrogen levels
- Are post-menopausal and have taken hormone replacement therapy for more than 10 years
- Have a close relative who has had breast cancer after age 45
What are the symptoms?
It is very unusual for breast cancer to produce symptoms in the early stages. Although the following symptoms most often result from non-cancerous conditions, if you experience any of them you should consult an internist. When symptoms do occur, they usually affect only one breast and may include:
- A lump in the breast which is usually painless and may be situated deep
- in the breast or just under the skin
- Dimpling (like an orange peel) of the skin area of the lump
- Inversion of the nipple
- A blood-stained nipple discharge
How is it diagnosed?
You should conduct self breast exams regularly to look for lumps and other abnormalities. Screening for breast cancer is done through a mammogram, which enables tumors to be detected before symptoms have appeared. Although mammograms are reliable, they
may not detect every case, so it is important to continue to do regular self breast examinations.
If breast cancer has been diagnosed and confirmed, further tests will be done to find out whether the cancer is sensitive to estrogen and to see if the cancer has spread. Certain blood tests will also be done to see if the cancer has spread to the liver, chest X-rays may be arranged to look for evidence of the cancer spreading to the lungs, and a bone scan may be done to find out whether the bones have been affected.
How is it treated?
The treatment for breast cancer depends on whether the cancer is affecting one area or
if it has spread throughout the body. Once a full assessment has been made, your internist will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment may include one or a combination of
- Surgery (removal of the cancerous tumor)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
What are the treatments for breast cancer? When it comes to treating breast cancer there are more than a few options people can choose to help fight their cancer. For every stage of breast cancer, you can consider three types of treatment.
Meant for a certain area like the breast or lymph nodes, instead of the entire body, diagnosis of breast cancer is normally done by some form of surgery like a biopsy. When it is discovered there are two types of surgery that can be performed. One is the mastectomy where the entire breast is removed, and the other is a partial mastectomy, where only part of the breast is removed. These two options are considered effective for women with a malignant tumor that is not that big in diameter. For women with a single tumor larger, partial mastectomy may still be an idea if chemotherapy is able to shrink the cancer enough before surgery.
Systemic therapy is good in order to get rid of any cells that may have spread to other parts of the body. If the cancer has spread and has formed tumors elsewhere this treatment can help shrink the cancer and hopefully lead to a remission, which would be ideal for everyone.
Breast Cancer Treatment Option
This treatment is mainly decided by the characteristics of the cancer. The more aggressive the tumor is then it will have a higher risk of spreading outside that area and into other areas where treatment can be harder to do.
Therapies are taken by either a pill or even sometimes by injection. Breast cancer chemotherapy treatment can be administered by either way and is used to destroy cancer cells that it finds. Immune therapy is widely unknown and not used as much as the other therapies just because it is new. It works the same way that getting a flu shot works, it makes the body think that something is attacking it, so that it was use its defense systems which are the while blood cells to fight the infection, or whatever the problem may be.
Complementary therapy is a new approach that many people are taking more and more to each day. Alternative breast cancer treatment is meant to help put the body back into a healthy balance so that it can start to self heal. A lot of people will swear by this, saying that by using what is considered unconventional methods such as chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, yoga and taking herbal remedies has greatly affected their breast cancer and has helped many to feel better during the course of their treatment.
Another known way is the breast cancer radiation treatment. It has little side effects because it works by giving small doses of radiation over a period of time. You really have nothing to lose trying this while accepting alternative methods of treatment, if it means it can have a healthy impact on your body.