Free Research Paper About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the major causes of death among women over the world. The incidences of breast cancer have been on the increase in the recent past, calling for investigations into the cause of this rising incidences. Focus has been on breast cancer for women, although studies have indicated that even men can suffer from the same. However, the focus is on women since that is where the problem is most rampant. Various screening methods for breast cancer are available for women. Various diagnoses are available and women are encouraged to utilize these services as often as possible. Treatment methods are also available for patients suffering from breast cancer.
Keywords: Breast Cancer
Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal growth of cells in the body. The body is usually made up of very many tiny cells, and any of those cells can be affected by an abnormality that can lead to cancer. The different types of cancer arise from the many different cells that exist in the body of a human being. Malignant tumors are a group of cells that grow abnormally in the body, and they continue to multiply, affecting any nearby healthy tissues and cells. While a malignant tumor may originate from a certain cell or group of cells, it can spread through the body if it breaks off from the main tumor, and is carried off to another site in the body through the blood stream (Ferlay, Hery, Autier & Sankaranarayanan, 2010). This is usually referred to as secondary tumors and the damage they cause is just as serious as that of primary tumors. The different kinds of cancers also differ in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and management.
The breast is a body organ made up of fats, lobules, milk ducts, and blood vessels. The breast tissue is then attached to the chest wall by muscles. The cells of the breast are at the risk of being attacked by primary and secondary tumors just as much as any other cells of the body. Ferlay, Hery, Autier & Sankaranarayanan (2010), defines breast cancer as a malignant tumor that develops in the breast tissue. According to Weigelt, Geyer & Reis-Filho (2010), Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. Statistics indicate that one in every nine women suffer from breast cancer. However, the disease isn’t a preserver for the females only, as it has been seen to affect men as well. Cancer of the breast can develop from ether the milk ducts or the lobules in the breast. Although breast cancer was more common among older women in the past, it has been seen to affect younger girls also in the recent past.
Types of Breast Cancer
Understanding the different types of breast cancers that exist is vital because each type is different in prognosis, diagnosis, treatment, and management. According to Weigelt, Geyer & Reis-Filho (2010), breast cancer can be broadly categorized into ductal and lobular carcinoma, depending with where it originates, i.e., either from the milk ducts or from the lobules. Ductal and lobular types of cancer are then further divided into invasive and non-invasive types of cancer.
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
As the name suggests, this kind of cancer originates from the ducts of the breast where some cells become cancerous (Weigelt, Geyer & Reis-Filho, 2010). These cancerous cells are localized within the ducts and if detected early, can be tamed before they spread to the rest of the body. Doctors refer to the ductal carcinoma in situ as a non-invasive or pre-invasive cancer because it is contained within the ducts and have little chance of spreading if it is diagnosed early. However, this type of cancer is evasive when it comes to its diagnosis as it is difficult to diagnose early due to its hidden nature. On the contrary, invasive ductal carcinoma refers to ductal cancer whose cancerous cells has broken off the primary cell and has spread to other tissues of the breast and has a very high chance of spreading to the lymph nodes and other body tissues.
Lobular Carcinoma in Situ
On the other hand, Lobular carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that originates from the lobules in the breast (Lakhani, 2012). It develops when some of the cells in the lobules grows abnormally, affecting other healthy cells. Commonly referred to as lobular neoplasia, it is less common than ductal carcinoma. Lobular carcinoma is invasive because it has high chances of spreading to the rest of the body. This type of breast cancer presents a challenge to the healthcare providers because it is hardly detected by mammograms, unlike ductal carcinoma (Ferlay, Hery, Autier & Sankaranarayanan, 2010). It can only be detected through biopsy, usually when one is having a biopsy for something different. Therefore, this makes lobular carcinoma in situ the most difficult type of breast cancer to treat because it is usually diagnosed when it is already in its advanced stages. This type of cancer shouldn’t be confused with the invasive lobular breast cancer, which is breast cancer that originates from the lobules, but has already spread into other tissues of the breast (Weigelt, Geyer & Reis-Filho, 2010). When cancerous cells are found in both breasts at the same time, it is likely that a patient is suffering from lobular carcinoma and not ductal carcinoma.
Factors that lead to Breast Cancer
Breast cancer development is facilitated by various factors like age, gender, genetics, lifestyles, and medical conditions, among other factors. The basis of development of cancer is from the alteration and/or destruction of normal cells by certain risk factors. When the abnormal cells survive, they multiply and become cancerous. Each factor will be briefly described below:
According to Nelson, et. al (2012) the older that a person grows, the higher their chances of developing cancer. This can be attributed to the accumulation of dead and damaged cells in the body over time. Also, the body’s ability to protect itself from attacks decreases with age. However, this is not to imply that cancer is a preserve for the old. Studies also indicate that breast cancer has become common among younger people. According to Nelson, et. al (2012), approximately 3% of all breast cancer patients are young people. The prevalence of breast cancer among young people has been on the increase in the recent past.
Gender is another risk factor for breast cancer. According to Nelson, et. al (2012), more women suffer from breast cancer compared to men. Only about 3% of all breast cancer cases are for men, while the rest are women, and this can be attributed to the genetic composition of females, which contributes to development of breast cancer (BreastCancer.org, 2014). Moreover, there are hormones that are present in females but are not present in males that may contribute to the disparity (NCI, 2013). Breastfeeding and childbearing are also some of the factors that may contribute to the development of breast cancer in females rather than in males. Due to this high prevalence, especially among women, screening of breast cancer has been made free in most countries.
Cancer has been described by Nelson, et. al (2012) as a lifestyle disease. Its prevalence has increased over the past few years, leading researchers to lean towards the lifestyles of people who are diagnosed with the disease. Although cancer was generally common among the rich folks, this has changed and even those who don’t lead affluent lives are being diagnosed with cancer. Some of the lifestyles that contribute to breast cancer include smoking and drinking, unhealthy eating habits, exposure to hazardous radiations, and use of contraceptives.
Genetics is another risk factor to breast cancer, with 5-10% of all breast cancer cases being believed to be primarily caused by genetics (Wacholder, et. al, 2010). People who have had history of cases of breast cancer in their families are at a higher risk of developing the disease than people who have no history of the same in their families. According to Wacholder, et. al (2010), those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 present in their genes have a higher chance of developing breast cancer due to the genetic mutations. Basically, faulty genes can be inherited from one family member to another, and if a person inherits faulty genes that facilitate the development of unhealthy cells, then this can lead to breast cancer.
Some medical conditions and their treatment also present risk factors to the development of breast cancer. According to Lakhani (2012), diseases like diabetes, and other types of cancer can lead to the development of breast cancers. Similarly, some of the treatments to medical conditions can lead to the destruction of healthy cells and mutation of unhealthy cells in the body, leading to breast cancer. Although, this accounts for small incidences of breast cancer, medical conditions still present the possibility of development of breast cancer (Wacholder, et. al, 2010).
Diagnosis of Breast Cancer
The diagnosis of breast cancer involves both physical examinations and clinical tests. There are various ways through which breast cancer can be diagnosed. Physical examinations are the first steps in diagnosis of breast cancer. The doctor looks out for lumps, abnormal discharges, and changes in the size and feel of the breast. If any of the results of the physical examination points towards breast cancer, a patient is referred to a specialist who carries out further tests to make a clinical diagnosis (DeSantis, Siegel, Bandi & Jemal, 2011)
A mammogram is a special x-ray that focuses on the breast tissue (Coleman, 2011). The x-ray provides an inside overview of the breast. Mammograms are the most common methods of diagnosing breast cancer. However, some types of breast cancer like the lobular carcinoma are not detected by mammograms. Women who are at the risk of developing breast cancer are invited for mammograms every so often because early detection of breast cancer determines its effective management and treatment (DeSantis, Siegel, Bandi & Jemal, 2011).
An ultrasound scan works more like a mammogram, only that the mammogram uses radiation to provide the internal images of a breast, while ultrasound scans use sound waves. This type of diagnosis is thought to be harmless because there is no use of radiation. The waves pick and reflect any dense surfaces in the tissues and reflect these dense surfaces as echoes. Therefore, if a person has a lump in their breast, the ultrasounds scan picks and presents it to a special machine (DeSantis, Siegel, Bandi & Jemal, 2011).
These are usually employed when performing a diagnosis on young women. The tissues of young women are denser than those of older adults, and use of ultrasound or mammograms may produce false positives (Coleman, 2011). To eliminate these possibilities, MRI scans are used. MRI scans use magnetic and radio waves to produce internal pictures of body organs like breasts. They are safe and painless method of obtaining the internal structure of organs, hence vital in diagnosing breast cancer.
Biopsy is the process of removing a sample tissue from an affected area and examining it under the microscope to investigate the presence or absence of cancerous cells. A biopsy is usually guided by the other diagnoses methods. Scans may show that a breast has a tumor, but to confirm that the tumor is cancerous, a biopsy is carried out. Biopsies are considered to be invasive methods, since they involve removing a live sample from a site for further investigation (Coleman, 2011).
Prevention and Treatment of Breast Cancer
One way of preventing breast cancer is by the adoption of healthy lifestyles. Healthy lifestyles involve consumption of healthy and whole foods, avoiding smoking and drinking, and engaging in physical exercises to reduce risk factors. Treatment of breast cancer depends with the stage at which it is diagnosed, and it can either be localized or for the whole body. Some of the treatment methods that are available include chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy (DeSantis, Siegel, Bandi & Jemal, 2011). A person with breast cancer can receive one of a combination of these treatment methods. Surgery involves the surgical removal of the cancerous tumor, while radiotherapy involves the use of x-rays to destroy the cancerous cells. Radiotherapy and surgery target only the affected cells, doing no harm to the healthy cells (Lakhani, 2012). Chemotherapy involves consumption of cancer-specific drugs for a period of time, while hormonal therapy is a measure that seeks to reduce the reproduction of cancer cells by inhibiting certain hormones that promote multiplication of cancer cells. Targeted therapies also interfere with the ability of the cancer to spread (DeSantis, Siegel, Bandi & Jemal, 2011).
In conclusion, breast cancer is a disease whose prevalence has continued to challenge the nursing and medical practices. This paper explored the topic of breast cancer, with a focus on the types of breast cancer, risk factors, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of the disease. Treatment of breast cancer has been an evasive subject, with research being continued to determine its treatment. However, focus has shifted mainly from treatment into prevention, since breast cancer is mostly preventable. Early diagnosis of the disease also helps in the effective management of the disease and most governments have made screening for breast cancer free in the hospitals in an effort to promote early diagnoses.
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