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Breast Cancer by Laura Puckett

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Breast Cancer is caused by abnormal cells forming in and around the breast tissue. It is the second most common type of cancer, after skin cancer. It is most commonly found in women, but occasionally it is seen in men. There are many symptoms that are involved in detecting breast cancer. The most common symptom is a lump found in or around the breast tissue. Other signs occur with changes in the skin on the breast. These include dimpling of the skin on or around the breast, flakey or peeling skin on the breast, and reddening or pitting of the skin (skin that looks like an orange peel).

The other signs are seen with changes in the nipple. These include a discharge or blood from the nipple if the nipple is inverted and flakey peeling skin on the nipple. The cause of breast cancer is not known for sure, but doctors have predictions of many different causes. It is believed that the cancer is highly linked to genetics. If a close relative develops breast cancer, then those related to them have a two to three times higher chance of contracting the cancer as well. The genes that are linked to breast cancer are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. It is believed that one in every 200 women carries this gene, and although a woman might have one of these genes it does not guarantee that she will in fact develop breast cancer. Breast cancer is mostly seen in post-menopausal women over 50.

Another possible cause is linked to hormones. Women who have greater concentrations of estrogen are more likely to have breast cancer. The hormone estrogen instructs cells to divide, and when the cells start to divide rapidly and abnormally, they cause a tumor that can become malignant. The correlation between diet and breast cancer is still being observed. Some believe that obesity and heavy drinking increase the risk of breast cancer. There are many ways to detect breast cancer; the simplest is a breast exam. This can be performed at home or in the doctor’s office. A breast exam is performed by first looking to see if there are abnormalities in the appearance of the breasts.

The next step is to feel the breast for any lumps on or around the breast tissue. Another way to detect breast cancer is by doing a mammogram. This is an x-ray of the breast that looks for any abnormalities. If abnormalities are found, then a biopsy of the breast is performed. This procedure is done by cutting out a section of the abnormal cells and then determining if they are cancerous or not. If breast cancer is found, it could be progressed to different stages. These stages range from 0 – IV, depending on how severe the cancer is. Stage 0 is the lowest stage and is the least invasive. Stage IV is the most advanced. This is the stage where the cancer has most likely spread to other parts of the body. There are many types of treatments for breast cancer.

The first step is usually a lumpectomy. During this procedure, the lump and some of the surrounding tissue is removed. A more invasive route is a mastectomy. This is when the entire breast tissue it removed. A non-surgical option is radiation therapy where high levels of energy are used to kill cancerous breast cells. Another non-surgical choice is chemotherapy. Drugs are used to kill the cancerous cells. This is also used when there is a high risk of the cancer coming back or to prevent the cancer from spreading throughout the rest of the body.


WebMD http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/breast-cancer-diagnosis-tests

MayoClinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer/DS00328/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs


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