What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

Without a doubt breast cancer has become a thorn of an illness for women worldwide.  It has evolved to being one of the leading causes of death for women all over the world. In the United states alone about 200,000 cases of breast cancer have been reported in 2001.  This insidious disease is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United states.  As matter of fact in both North America and Europe, it is the most malignant problem that affects women.

What is breast cancer and how do women get it? 

Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when malignant tumors in the breast starts to grow and end up affecting other tissues in the body.   It is not clear how exactly tumors are created.  However, it is observed that cancerous cells usually comes from the glands or ducts of the breast.

It is advised by doctors and health organizations to massage the breast daily and to feel for any possible lumps.  However cancerous cells are not always big enough to feel.   By the time they are big enough to detect by the feel test, it may already be too late.  Doctors are able to diagnose the cancer with the use of mammograms.

Who is at risk?

Actually all women are at risk.  But there are some factors that increases the risk.  Natural cycle such as aging is a risk factor, so is family history.  Hereditary has been shown to play a role, so a family history of breast cancer can affect the prognosis significantly.  Women who got their periods before the age of 12 are at high risk.  Women who had never had children or women who had children after the age of 30 are at a higher risk to developing breast cancer.

Hormonal problems are a high risk factor.  However, medical treatments can help alter hormonal issues through the help of replacement therapy.  To help minimize cancer risk, it is advised to take preventative measures such as reducing alcohol consumption, and decreasing the use of birth control pills.  It has also been found that breast feeding decreases the risk of the development of breast cancer.

Therapies and treatments

Even though there are a number of precautions women can take to prevent breast cancer from developing, the cause and effect relationships between these preventative factors are still up for debate.  Doctors often recommend a drug called Tamoxifen for women who are high risk for breast cancer.  When taken for 5 years, Tamoxifen can decrease risks by as much as 50 percent.

Like all medications, Tamoxifen do have side effects.  Some of these side effects include hot flash, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and depression. Other less common but serious adverse effects are blood clots, stroke, cataracts, bone loss in premenopausal women, uterine and endometrial cancer.

Vitamin A is a none prescription drug avenue that’s being observed for decreasing breast cancer risk.  Although still in the initial stage and nothing have been proven yet, some studies shows Vitamin A to be effective in decreasing the risk of breast cancer.  Other breast cancer fighting elements are linked to phytoestrogens.  Phytoestrogens can be found in soya, Vitamins E and C.

Precautions and early detection

Until medical research find concrete solutions, early detection is a must to ensure safety from breast cancer.  This is why daily self-examinations, annual checkups, and mammograms are important.

Knowing the beginnings of breast cancer is of utmost importance and can save your life.  Here are some of the signs that you should watch out for.

  • Lumps in the breast and underarms
  • Changes in breast size
  • Scaling on the breast and on and around the nipple
  • Redness on the breast area and the nipple
  • Discharge from the nipple

If you observe any of these signs, it is best to see a specialist to determine if you have breast cancer or not.  Remember early detection and quick action is very crucial to a healthier you. More extensive resources can be found at the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

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