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What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

What You Should Know About Breast Cancer

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Published by shared4u2
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Published by: shared4u2 on Jan 28, 2012
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 ==== ====FREE CANCER INFORMATIONhttp://www.cancerinfosearch.org ==== ====Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women and the second leading cause of cancerdeath, exceeded only by lung cancer in 1985. One woman in eight who lives to age 85 willdevelop breast cancer at some time during her life. At present there are over 2 million women living in the United States who have been treated forbreast cancer. About 41,000 women will die from the disease. The chance of dying from breastcancer is about 1 in 33. However, the rate of death from breast cancer is going down. Thisdecline is probably the result of early detection and improved treatment. Breast cancer is not just a woman's disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that 1600men develop the disease yearly and about 400 may die from the disease. Breast cancer risk is higher among those who have a mother, aunt, sister, or grandmother whohad breast cancer before age 50. If only a mother or sister had breast cancer, your risk doubles.Having two first-degree relatives who were diagnosed increases your risk up to five times theaverage. Although it is not known exactly what causes breast cancer; sometimes the culprit is a hereditarymutation in one of two genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes normally protect againstthe disease by producing proteins that guard against abnormal cell growth, but for women with themutation, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer can increase up to 80 percent, comparedwith 13 percent among the general population. In effect, more than 25 percent of women withbreast cancer have a family history of the disease. For women without a family history of breast cancer, the risks are harder to identify. It is knownthat the hormone estrogen feeds many breast cancers, and several factors - diet, excess weight,and alcohol consumption - can raise the body's estrogen levels. Early Signs Early signs of breast cancer include the following: - A lump which is usually single, firm and most often painless is detected. - An area of the skin on the breast or underarm is swollen and has an unusual appearance. - Veins on the skin surface become more prominent on one breast. - The affected breast nipple becomes inverted, develops a rash, changes in skin texture, or has a
discharge other than breast milk. - A depression is found in an area of the breast surface. Types and Stages of Breast Cancer There are many different varieties of breast cancer. Some are fast-growing and unpredictable,while others develop more slowly and steady. Some are stimulated by estrogen levels in thebody; some result from mutation in one of the two previously mentioned genes - BRCA1 andBRCA2. Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS): Generally divided into comedo (blackhead), in which the cutsurface of the tumor shows extrusion of dead and necrotic tumor cells similar to a blackhead, andnon-comedo types. DCIS is early breast cancer that is confined to the inside of the ductal system.The distinction between comedo and non-comedo types is important, as comedocarcinoma in-situgenerally behaves more aggressively and may show areas of micro-invasion through the ductalwall into surrounding tissue. Infiltrating Ductal: This is the most common type of breast cancer, representing 78 percent of allmalignancies. On mammography, these lesions can appear in two different shapes -- stellate(star- like) or well circumscribed (rounded). The stellate lesions generally have a poorer prognosis. Medullary Carcinoma: This malignancy comprises 15 percent of breast cancers. These lesions aregenerally well circumscribed and may be difficult to distinguish from fibroadenoma bymammography or sonography. With this type of breast cancer, prognostic indicators estrogen andprogesterone receptor are negative 90 percent of the time. Medullary carcinoma usually has abetter prognosis than other types of breast cancer. Infiltrating Lobular: Representing 15 percent of breast cancers, these lesions generally appear inthe upper outer quadrant of the breast as a subtle thickening and are difficult to diagnose bymammography. Infiltrating lobular can involve both breasts (bilateral). Microscopically, thesetumors exhibit a linear array of cells and grow around the ducts and lobules. Tubular Carcinoma: This is described as orderly or well-differentiated carcinoma of the breast.These lesions make up about 2 percent of breast cancers. They have a favorable prognosis withnearly a 95 percent 10-year survival rate. Mucinous Carcinoma: Represents 1-2 percent of carcinoma of the breast and has a favorableprognosis. These lesions are usually well circumscribed (rounded). Inflammatory Breast Cancer: This is a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer that is usuallyevidenced by changes in the skin of the breast including redness (erythema), thickening of theskin and prominence of the hair follicles resembling an orange peel. The diagnosis is made by askin biopsy, which reveals tumors in the lymphatic and vascular channels about 50 percent of thetime. Stages of Breast Cancer 
The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma. It begins in the lining of the ducts.Another type, called lobular carcinoma, arises in the lobules. When cancer is found, thepathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is - whether it began in a duct (ductal) or a lobule(lobular) and whether it has invaded nearby tissues in the breast (invasive). When cancer is found, special lab tests of the tissue are usually done to learn more about thecancer. For example, hormone (estrogen and progesterone) receptor tests can help determinewhether hormones help the cancer to grow. If test results show that hormones do affect the growthof the cancer (a positive test result), the cancer is likely to respond to hormonal therapy. Thistherapy deprives the cancer cells of estrogen. Other tests are sometimes done to help predict whether the cancer is likely to progress. Forexample, x-rays and other lab tests are done. Sometimes a sample of breast tissue is checked fora gene, known as the human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2 gene) that is associatedwith a higher risk that the breast cancer will recur. Special exams of the bones, liver, or lungs aredone because breast cancer may spread to these areas. A woman's treatment options depend on a number of factors. These factors include her age andmenopausal status; her general health; the size and location of the tumor and the stage of thecancer; the results of lab tests; and the size of her breast. Certain features of the tumor cells, suchas whether they depend on hormones to grow are also considered. In most cases, the most important factor is the stage of the disease. The stage is based on thesize of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. The following are brief descriptions of thestages of breast cancer and the treatments most often used for each stage. Other treatments maysometimes be appropriate. Stage 0 Stage 0 is sometimes called non-invasive carcinoma or carcinoma in situ. Lobular carcinoma insitu (LCIS) refers to abnormal cells in the lining of a lobule. These abnormal cells seldom becomeinvasive cancer. However, they are an indicator of an increased risk of developing breast cancer inboth breasts. The treatment for LCIS is a drug called tamoxifen, which can reduce the risk ofdeveloping breast cancer. A person who is affected may choose not to have treatment, but tomonitor the situation by having regular checkups. And occasionally, the decision is made to havesurgery to remove both breasts to try to prevent cancer from developing. In most cases, removalof underarm lymph nodes is not necessary. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) refers to abnormal cells in the lining of a duct. DCIS is also calledintraductal carcinoma. The abnormal cells have not spread beyond the duct to invade thesurrounding breast tissue. However, women with DCIS are at an increased risk of getting invasivebreast cancer. Some women with DCIS have breast-sparing surgery followed by radiation therapy.Alternatively, they may choose to have a mastectomy, with or without breast reconstruction(plastic surgery) to rebuild the breast. Underarm lymph nodes are not usually removed. Also,women with DCIS may want to talk with their doctor about tamoxifen to reduce the risk ofdeveloping invasive breast cancer. Stage I and II

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