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Breast Cancer - Research Paper Example

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Breast cancer is considered as the major cause of mortality due to malignancy among women aged between 40-50 years. The epidemiological studies in United States brought…
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Breast Cancer Breast cancer has emerged as a most common and highly feared malignancy among women above the age of fifty. Breast cancer is considered as the major cause of mortality due to malignancy among women aged between 40-50 years. The epidemiological studies in United States brought forward an alarmingly large number of 181,600 cases that were diagnosed of breast cancer in 1997. With the rising graph of newly diagnosed cases every year and the related high mortality incidences, education about prevention and improved therapeutic measures have also come into sight. Morphologically breast cancer is divided into two basic types depending on the anatomic site affected by the tumor cells; Ductal and lobular carcinoma. As the name indicates, the ductal type originates form the ducts or lactiferous tubes of the breast while the lobular carcinoma originates from the stroma or lobules of the breast responsible for lactation. On the basis of penetration through the limiting basement membrane, the breast cancers are divided into two basic subtypes; Invasive and non-invasive. The non-invasive types are classified into two types which include ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) on the basis that tumor cells have not invaded the adjacent tissues (Chen 2010; McPherson et al 2000).
The causes or risk factors of breast cancer can be divided into two major categories which are modifiable and non-modifiable. Non-modifiable risk factors are age, geographical variations, family history, menstrual history, associated familial syndromes and genetics. The increase in the age of a woman is also a risk factor for breast cancer. Women who fall between the age group of 40-50 are at the highest risk of getting this malignancy. Moreover, if family history shows positive cases especially in first degree relatives like mother, daughter or sister, then it also increases the chances to develop breast cancer. Breast cancer has been associated with genes which include BRCA1 and BRCA2 which have been linked to the causation of familial breast cancer. These are genes located on chromosome 17 which undergo autosomal dominant mutations and are responsible for 5% to 10% inherited cases of breast cancer. The sporadic breast cancer is considered to be caused by mutations in several tumor suppressor and oncogenes like p53, c-myc, c-myb and bcl-2. Moreover, the over expression of HER2/neu also has a very strong relation to breast cancer. The age of menarche and menopause also plays an important role in the incidence of breast cancer. If the age of menarche is less than 12 years or menopause is after the age of 55 years, it increases the risk by many folds. Among the modifiable risk factors the major ones include history of pregnancy and previous benign breast disease. Nulliparity or first live birth after age of 30 or 35 increases the risk of breast cancer. Other less well-established causes include radiation, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, obesity, alcohol, and excessive smoking (Chen 2010; McPherson et al 2000).
The medical world has come up with new and improved screening methods for the prevention of breast cancer. These include self-examination by women at home, mammography and proper history and clinical examination. Early intervention can result into reduced mortality. Primary breast disease can be treated quite successfully with lumpectomy and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy involving different combination drugs involving doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, fluorouracil and epirubicin are used in different combinations. Chemotherapy is also applied along with hormone therapy where tamoxifen is used with chemotherapy. Axillary lymph node dissection is a recommended procedure to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer (Wood et al 1998).
Breast cancer is a topic that is deeply related to me and my family, which motivated me to write about it. I saw two people very close to me- my aunt and my mother- suffer from this disease and then lose their battle against this deadly malignancy. Moreover, currently my cousin and aunt are also facing the anguish of breast cancer. My past experience and the present sufferings have motivated me to spread awareness about this disease and know more about its causes and risk factors. If proper screening methods are applied and women are aware of symptoms, breast cancer can be prevented or intervened at the right time. Being a highly feared malignancy, anybody suffering from it, needs our support and encouragement to come out of this misery.
Works Cited
Chen, Yi-Ben. “Breast cancer.” PubMed Health. 28 Dec. 2010. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001911/
McPherson, K, C M. Steel, and J M. Dixon. "Abc of Breast Diseases: Breast Cancer-Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Genetics." Bmj : British Medical Journal. 321.7261 (2000): 624. Web. 14 Dec. 2011. http://www.bmj.com/content/321/7261/624.short
Wood, Alastair J. J, and Gabriel N. Hortobagyi. "Treatment of Breast Cancer." New England Journal of Medicine. 339.14 (1998): 974-984. Print. We. 14 Dec. 2011. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199810013391407 Read More
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