From relative obscurity, breast cancer has become one of the leading causes of deaths among women in the world. In 2001, about 200,000 cases of breast cancer were reported in the United States, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in the US. It is, in fact, the most common malignancy problem that is affecting women in North America and Europe today.
But what is breast cancer and how do people get it?
Breast cancer occurs when malignant tumors in the breast grow and start to affect other tissues in the body. There are still no clear answers as to how tumors are created, but what is often observed is that cancerous cells usually come from ducts or glands. It is often reccomended that women conduct self-breast exams monthly, but a tumor can exist for a long time before it is big enough to feel.
Breast at risk
All women are at risk for breast cancer. The risk increases with the presence of some risk factors that are already part of the natural cycle, like aging. Family history of breast cancer can also significantly affect the prognosis as heredity has been found to play a role. Women who got their periods before they were 12 years old and those who never had children or had children after 30 years old are also more likely to develop breast cancer.
Risk factors like hormone imbalances can be treated medically while women can do much to limit their risk by decreasing alcohol consumption, exercising every daily and decreasing the use of birth control pills. Breastfeeding has also been found to decrease the risk of breast cancer development.
Although there are some factors that women can avoid to prevent breast cancer, cause and effect relationships between these factors and breast cancer is still debatable. For women who are already at high risk, doctors often recommend a drug called Tamoxifen, which is known to decrease the risk by as much 50 percent when taken in five years. Still, like all medications, Tamoxifen has side effects such as hot flushes, vaginal discharge and sometimes even blood clots. Taking the drug can also lead to pulmonary emobolus, stroke and uterine cancer, although these are all isolated cases.
Some studies show vitamin A to be effective in decreasing the risk. Still, research is still in the initial stages and nothing has been proven yet. Other things that are being linked to the breast cancer fight are phytoestrogens, which can be found in soya, Vitamin E and Vitamin C.
But until something concrete is found in research, the only thing that women can do to ensure that they are safe from breast cancer is early detection. This can be done through regular self-examinations as well as annual check ups and mammogram tests. It is also important that women know the early symptoms of breast cancer. Here are some of the signs that they should watch out for.
Lumps in the breast and in the underarms
*Scaling of the skin of the breast and of the nipple
*Redness in the skin of the breast and of the nipple
*Changes in the size of their breasts
*Discharges from the nipple
If these signs are observed, it is best to consult a physician right away.
About the Author: Robert Thatcher is a freelance publisher based in Cupertino, California. He publishes articles and reports in various ezines and provides breast cancer resources.
Filed under: "HEALTH AND FITNESS", HEALTH, "HEALTHY HOTTIES GROUP", "Breast Cancer"