October 19, 2013
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their life. It is important that we educate them as to what risk factors exist. Risk factors such as age, family history, weight, and use of hormone replacement therapy just to name a few. Women should be encouraged to do monthly self-breast exams as well as have regular mammograms. This will help with early detection. It is important to know what to expect when seeking diagnosis. What tests will be preformed, how it will be preformed, and what the test will show. Women need to know what treatment plans are out there, such as surgeries, radiation, or chemotherapy. Having all of this information could save lives.
BREAST CANCER Statistics show that one in eight women will develop some type of breast cancer in their lifetime. They also show that breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women (Breastcancer.org, 2013). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that women often ask the question “will I develop breast cancer?” The scary truth is that there is no way to know for sure who will develop this disease. However, there is evidence that there are factors that can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. It is important to know what these factors are and if you have them. Many people think there is only one form of breast cancer and one type of treatment. When in fact doctors have discovered that there are several forms of breast cancer and with this discovery new treatment methods have also been developed (Sutton, 2012). I find it ironic how we live in an age where we have information at our fingertips and yet there are still so many with questions about breast cancer.
What is breast cancer and how does it develop? Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system of the body. This type of cancer usually develops in breast tissues, or in the lymph nodes under the arm (Sutton, 2012). Cancer develops when a normal cell turns in to an abnormal cell. When you get an overgrowth of these cells they create a mass called a tumor (Hartmann, Loprinzi, & Mayo Clinic, 2012, p. 19). That is the process of cancer development. What risk factors are there? One risk factor in breast cancer development is Age. The older a woman is the greater chance she has of developing breast cancer. Therefore, a woman who is in her sixties is more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman is in her twenties. The likely hood of developing the disease also increases if there is a family history of breast cancer (Hartmann, Loprinzi, & Mayo Clinic, 2012,). This means that if your mother, sister, grandmother, or aunt had breast cancer, you are at an increased risk. A woman’s menstrual cycle can also contribute to the risk factors. If a woman’s first menstrual cycle occurs before she is twelve years old or if she goes through menopause after age fifty-five, her chances of developing breast cancer increase (Sutton, 2012). Studies have shown that women who have children after their thirties or have no children at all are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. There have also been studies on the effects of hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer. Clinical trials conducted to determine the effect of hormone replacement therapy on breast cancer were shut down due to risks out weighing the benefits (Sutton, 2012). This information has raised increased concern about the use of hormone replacement therapy for extended periods. Body weight is another contributing risk factor. A post-menopausal woman who is obese is at greater risk of developing breast cancer than is an obese pre-menopausal woman (Sutton, 2012).
Catching breast cancer in the early stages leads to a better outcome. That is why it is important to know what signs and symptoms to look for, and when to go to the doctor if you have concerns (Hartmann,…