Breast Cancer Research Paper Samples
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In this modern world we are all aware of the plethora of diseases and conditions that human beings can develop, contract, and suffer from that carries a potentially terminal outcome. Humanity has come quite far in its ability to recognize and treat many conditions improving the prognosis and lessening the lethal factors associated. However, there are still many conditions that are a mystery in many ways to science and others that are completely understandable, but cannot be cured. Cancer is one such disease. Cancer is the term used for a single condition that can affect just about any part of the body, skin, organs, blood and even bone. Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent in the United States and, despite treatments; it continues to take the lives of women every year. As of 2011, there are 2,899,726 suffering with breast cancer in the United States, and that number is continuing to rise. For every 100,000 more than 124 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 22.2 will die as a result of that diagnosis. This prevalence continues to rise, it is now estimated that 12.3% of women will be diagnosed with some form of breast cancer in their lifetime (National Cancer Institute, 2011). Researchers have and continue to innovate the medical realms ability to assess and proactively treat all forms of cancer, including breast cancer. The ultimate and ideal goal is to eliminate cancer in the future. However, in the meantime, society must continue to develop effective treatments and limits risk factors; doing that requires a clear understanding and overview of the disease in question.
Breast cancer, obviously, is tumor activity that begins in the cells of the breast of, which primarily affects women, but men are not immune. In fact, upwards of 1,700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year (Web MD, 2015). In a normal, healthy, female breasts there are necessary structures that include, lobules, glands which will develop milk when pregnant, ducts, which aid in transporting milk to the nipples and stroma, which make up the connective tissues, along with blood and lymphatic vessels. Most cancers will develop in ducts and, sometimes the lobules; however it is not impossible for it to develop in the lymphnodes and other tissues. In fairness there are a number of conditions that can occur that, while might cause a “cancer scare” is essentially non-threatening, for example, benign tumor growth, fibroids, and cysts (American Cancer Society, 2014).
There are a combination of tell-tale signs and symptoms that lead to a breast cancer diagnosis. In the earliest stages the cancer will lead to out of control growth of tumor cell tissues. This can lead to lumps that can be detected when examining the breast. In some cases these lumps may be sensitive and cause discharge from the nipple. Many people are afflicted with fatigue, nausea, and experience sudden unexplained weight loss. If this condition goes undiagnosed or untreated then it will get progressively worse. One of the dangerous aspects of breast cancer is its high likelihood of metastasizing and traveling to other organs and tissues of the body spreading the cancer to cells within the whole body (Cloe, 2013). Once the diagnosis of breast cancer is made it becomes necessary to assess the individual and identify the best course of treatment.
The traditional treatment for breast cancer has been and remains a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. The former uses radiation to disrupt and retard tumor growth. The latter involves a combination of prescribed cancer medications, administered in lengthy clinical settings, which can help to slow the cancer and bolster weakened immune systems. While both measures have proven their effectiveness in treating cancers there are a number side effects that can be just as severe as the disease itself, included continuing weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, hair loss, diarrhea, lowered resistance to infections, nausea and vomiting. Some may also experience an early onset of menopause. In the most severe cases, where eliminating the cancer through the traditional means will be ineffective, then a mastectomy of one or both breast can eliminate the potential of metastasis (Web MD, 2015).
The prognosis of cancer is varied. It is dependent on the stage of cancer, where the cancer is located and what treatments prove most beneficial. Stage one represents a localized cancer, prior to metastasizing and Stage 4 is when the cancer has spread and the tide is nearly impossible to stem. However, with early detection and treatment then the survival rates or rather promising. At the same time, science is also seeking and endorsing means of prevention; eliminating the problems before they start (National Cancer Institute, 2011). One of the most recent research has determined that there are genes that can make an individual more likely to develop cancer over others. This can give women with a predisposition for developing breast cancer an opportunity to be proactive with their health. BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, the breast cancer susceptibility gene, when functioning properly can protect an individual from cancer; any mutation to those genes can have an oppositional effect. In these women, and occasionally men, these genes increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer, sometimes as high as 85% (Croshaw & et. al, 2011).Having the foreknowledge of this predisposition can help women be more prepared. However, this knowledge can lead to a controversial and extreme treatment option. When these women hear that they carry that mutation and their development of cancer at some point in their lives is, essentially, and inevitability, they option to eliminate that possibility, by eliminating the cancerous target. They option of have a bilateral, both breasts, mastectomy as a prophylactic or preventative measure.
This topic became incredibly news worthy when famous actress, Angelina Jolie, having lost her mother to breast cancer and a verified mutation in the BRCA genes, chose to have both of her breasts removed to avoid the risk factors. While this measure does seem to remove the likelihood and reduce the chances of developing breast cancer, it is extreme. While it is a highly aggressive measure, the statistics show that it is an effective solution. However, this measure does not lessen the development of cancer in other parts of the body. The controversial nature of this decision has received a lot of criticisms (Croshaw & et. al, 2011). For many women, their breasts are a sign of their femininity, to eliminate that is perceived as many to be psychologically damaging in the long run. They argue that regardless of genetic predispositions there are many more practical options that can help to prevent that development of cancer without the amputation of body parts. While living a healthier lifestyle, eating the right foods, participating in reasonable exercise, and avoiding unhealthy, cancer causing habits, like smoking and drinking is beneficial, it does not guarantee that this person will not develop breast cancer or some other form of cancer. There are many people who live healthy lives, never participate in bad habits and still development severe and aggressive cancers that can and will claim their lives and others may do nothing but engage in bad habits and caustic work environments and never contract any form of cancer (American Cancer Society, 2014). Cancer is not a universal disease it is unlikely to have an universal answer.
In the end, cancer is still a conundrum to medical science. There are many forms, and multiple causes that manifest in varying degrees in millions of different people. Breast cancer, like all cancer, never effects anyone exactly the same, that said, as individual as the disease is, why would the treatments not be equally and unique? Modern medicine continues to pursue the needed research necessary to make cancer less of a threat among human populations, in the meantime treatment and therapies are being innovated every day. There was a time when cancer was literally a death sentence, while today; it does not always have to be. For the women in the United States who are predispositioned or fearful of developing cancer then it is necessary to participate in their own healthcare, follow-through regular proactive, visits with your doctors, take the steps necessary to lower the chances of breast cancer and immediate treatment when any suspicious symptoms are recognized. Again, as always, cancer has the most positive prognosis when it is identified, addressed and treated as early as possible. Finding the means to eliminate the prevalence of breast cancer is worthwhile cause and finding new means of combating it is highly beneficial.
Cloe, A. (2013, August 26). How does breast cancer affect the body?. Live Strong, 1. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/23300-breast-cancer-affect-body/
Croshaw, R. L., & et. al., (2011). Prophylactic and therapeutic breast conservation in brca1/2 mutation carriers. International Journal of Breast Cancer, 2011, 1-9.
American Cancer Society. (2014, December 31). Breast cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-what-is-breast-cancer
National Cancer Institute. (2011). Seer stat fact sheets: Breast cancer. Retrieved from http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/breast.html
Web MD. (2015). Breast cancer health center. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/guide/breast-cancer-symptoms-and-types
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