Critical Background You Need to Know About Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a disease that affects both men and women. Most people don’t know that men can get cancer of the breast, too. Breast cancer is not just one disease but a little group of diseases with cells growing out of control. Just about all tumors are really clumps of abnormal cells. Tumor cells often break off and go some other place to form; this is called metastasis (spreading). Even cancer of the breast can spread to other parts of the body.
Tumor size alone does not mean that it is or isn’t cancer. Even the smallest tumor can be cancerous and the truth is that by the time a lump is big enough to be found, it has probably been there several years already, growing. Once the body’s immune system can no longer handle the cells in the body, the cancer grows out of control and begins to destroy. Today’s cancer treatments are based on reducing the cancer cells.
The risks for cancer of the breast include: gender, age, family medical history, ethnic background, alcohol use, weight gain, sedentary life, toxic exposure. There are some that can’t be changed like: sex, age, family history, and first period before age 12.
Are there warning signs for breast cancer? Yes; nipple discharge, inverted nipples, and Paget’s disease of the breast. Mostly there are no warning signs because early breast cancer doesn’t have any pain.
There is more than one type of cancer of the breast, including something called inflammatory breast cancer. Noninvasive cancer of the breast is a cancer that is encapsulated and has not spread. Invasive breast cancer has already begun to spread to other spots in the body. Inflammatory cancer of the breast starts when cancer cells block lymph glands and cells. It causes inflammation of the breast and makes it swollen and tender. It can be mistaken for a breast infection and possibly be overlooked until it has developed more.
Male cancer of the breast is more common in the older men and usually is noticed with a lump in the breast.
The National Cancer Institute is trying to develop a vaccine against breast cancer. It would only be effective in preventing a new cancer from developing. Tests have recently been developed to be able to genetically determine if a person is or isn’t prone to cancer of the breast. These would be the people first chosen to be vaccinated.
Many new treatments have been developed in recent years. There have been new types of chemotherapy and radiation treatments developed that don’t have the devastating side effects of previous ones.
Early detection through mammograms and special breast scans has saved many thousands of women from death. It is now recommended that women who have a family risk factor get their first mammogram at least by age 30. Government agencies may try to change the recommendations but women must insist on guarding their lives by testing for early detection.