Breastcancer is a type of cancer that mainly develops in breast tissues. Ofall cancer types, this is the most common, and it affects mostlywomen even though men are also at risk of developing the disease.Global statistics from the World Cancer Research Internationalindicate that in 2014 alone, there were over 2.4 million new cases ofbreast cancer. This comprised about 14 percent of all the new cancercases that were diagnosed that year. Further, the statistics revealthat about 25 percent of cancer cases occur in women. Cancer is alsoreported to be the leading cause of death among women.
Accordingto Center for Disease Control, 234,347 women and 2,457 men diagnosedwith cancer in the United States alone in 2013. In the same year,42,380 women and 416 men were reported to have died from breastcancer. The CDC reports further mentions that irrespective of race orethnicity, cancer is prevalent in all women.
Theexact cause of breast cancer is still a subject of scientificresearch, but there is known risk factors that can predispose anindividual to cancer. Even so, there have been reported cases ofpeople at risk of developing cancer, but yet they fail to develop thedisease while some people at no risk whatsoever have been shown todevelop breast cancer (Vande Woude & Klein, 2009). This has leftthe scientific research fraternity in a dilemma to try and understandwhy this is so. The most significant of all risk factors is age. As awoman advance in age, she becomes more at risk to develop breastcancer especially if she had been affected earlier in her years byother types of cancer such as ovarian cancer.
Obesityhas also been shown to be a risk factor. Research reveals thatincreased intake of foods high in calories may lead to increasedchances of developing breast cancer (Vande Woude & Klein, 2009).The hormones have also been linked to breast cancer and it is nowapparent that women with more estrogen levels than normal are at riskof developing cancer because this hormone leads to overmultiplication of cells in the body. Cancer can also be inheritedalong the family line. Two genes, BRCA1, and BRCA2 have beenidentified to be responsible for the inheritance of breast cancer(Krieger, 2015).
Eachyear, the infinite number of individuals with breast cancer istreated successfully but for many others, cancer keeps coming backand in such like cases, further intervention is usually required.This happens because cancer can metastasize and relocate to otherareas of the body Krieger, 2015). Its ability to recur leaves manyaffected people hopeless because they feel that death is inevitable.Those affected are also left suffering because of the pain andtorment that breast cancer brings along.
Breastcancer is also among the leading mortality factors in the world,especially in women. There is a possibility that 1 in about 30 womeninfected by breast cancer will die of the disease. The AmericanCancer report of 2016 estimated that about 40,000 women will die ofcancer in the United States alone. Death affects livelihoods byincreasing the burden on families with breast cancer victims whostrive to ensure that their loved ones receive treatment (Krieger,2015). The resources spent towards treatment could have otherwisebeen used in other development projects.
Noknown way can be used to prevent cancer entirely. However, riskfactors can be avoided to reduce the chances of developing breastcancer. Healthy lifestyles and eating habits are encouraged amongpeople. Avoiding diets rich in calories such as alcohol is a majorfactor to consider. Regular physical exercises will help shed offextra weight which may, in turn, lead to obesity.
Thereis also available medication for women most at risk such asraloxifene and tamoxifen. Dietary supplements and aromataseinhibitors can also be used to reduce breast cancer risk (Krieger,2015). For women with breast cancer history in their families,genetic testing can be done to determine if they carry geneticmutations that are known to enhance breast cancer risk such as BRCAgenes.
Itis important for breast cancer to be detected early. Early detectionmakes it possible for the disease to be managed effectively bymedical practitioners. Mammograms are available in almost all healthinstitutions, and they are used to screen women for tumors in thebreasts. Early detection and intervention have been shown to havebetter outcomes than when the disease is detected in its advancedstages. Most women discover cancer by feeling lumps in their breastsbut by this time the cancer cells will have spread to vast areas ofthe breast (Fujimori, 2010). Doctors all over the globe appreciatethe fact that early detection helps save a lot of lives. It is,therefore, important that women take advantage of the screening teststhat are available in all the leading health institutions.
Treatmentis a lot easier and guaranteed to have a positive outcome when breastcancer is detected early enough than when it is caught late. Manytreatment options are available such as chemotherapy, surgicalintervention, immunotherapy among other therapies. Clinical trialsare usually available and taking part in some of them can help bringthe disease under control especially if they prove to be successful(DeVita et al., 2005). For the best outcome of treatment, severaltreatment options are used in combination.
Allover the globe, researchers are working round the clock to gaininsight into ways that can be used to detect, prevent and managebreast cancer. Some of the areas that have attracted scientificattention include new imaging tests, treatment, causes, riskreduction and diagnostic techniques. Recent studies have been able touncover the causes of cancer such as gene mutations. Specifically,the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been identified to be responsible forthe inherited form of breast cancer (Vande Woude & Klein, 2009).Scientists are currently also exploring other types of genevariations to determine their contribution to breast cancer risk.
Scientificresearchers are also working on drugs that can be used to reduce therisk of breast cancer. The fruits of their efforts are alreadyevident in hormone therapy drugs such as tamoxifen and raloxifenewhich have already been approved and are currently in use.Fenretinide is also currently under investigation to determine itseffectiveness in lowering the risk of breast cancer.
Newerimaging tests are under investigation to enhance evaluation ofbreasts for any abnormal development. Scintimammography to mention isbeing studied as a possible molecular imaging technique (Vande Woude& Klein, 2009). This technique will be a breakthrough as far asearly detection of breast cancer is concerned. It is also argued thatit would be more accurate than magnetic imaging resonance (MRI) whichis expensive. Bone directed treatments are being studied similarlyand will uncover new ways of dealing with breast cancer.
Breastcancer is a major mortality factor in women. There is no known causeof the disease, but risk factors have been studied and explained.Avoiding risk factors can lower the risk of developing cancer. Breastcancer cannot be sufficiently prevented, but scientific researchersadvocate for healthy lifestyles such as physical exercises and dietslow in calories to reduce breast cancer risk. Early detection iscrucial for successful treatment and outcome and this reason womenare encouraged to attend health institutes for screening. Currenttreatment involves a combination of strategies such as chemotherapyand surgical intervention. Scientists are also studying bone andhormone mediated treatments to inform future treatment possibilities.
DeVita,V., Hellman, S., & Rosenberg, S. (2005). Cancer,principles & practice of oncology.Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Fujimori,M. (2010). Breast cancer research from bench to bedside. BreastCancer,17(2),79-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12282-009-0187-8
Krieger,N. (2015). Breast bruises and breast cancer. BreastCancer Research,17(1).http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-015-0631-y
VandeWoude, G. & Klein, G. (2009). Advancesin cancer research.Amsterdam: Elsevier.