Cancer is a group of diseases that are characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of cells all over the body. Among the different types of cancer, breast cancer is arguably the most common form of cancer that is most prevalent in women, with rare cases in men. In the United States, breast cancer is ranked as the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Virtually, several malignant cells and external factors are involved in the formation of cancer risk factors. In this context, this study seeks to give a better insight into the illness including the various risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, stages of breast cancer, and treatment options available.
Female Breast Cancer
In the United States, it is estimated that about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime (“U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics,” 2017). Further statistics show that by this year, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed alongside 63,410 cases of non-invasive. That is not all, as the number of women expected to die from the disease has been increasing since 1989 despite advanced cancer treatments. By definition, Jin & Mu (2015) terms breast cancer as a type of cancer where malignant cells form a tumor or lymph node in the breast. Although the tumors start growing in the breast, they sometimes spread to other organs through the bloodstream, which most of the times ends up in chronic illness and death for many people. Overall, as Kabel & Baali (2015) elaborate, the risk factors for breast cancer include a broad combination of genetic and environmental factors such as advanced age, early menstrual periods, genetic mutations, and family history. Typically, the development of breast cancer can be broken into several stages usually ranging from 0 to 4, with each numeral implying a diagnosis with an increase in number signifying advanced cancer (“Stages of Breast Cancer,” 2017). Stage 0 is also referred to as noninvasive cancer and is detected early. Treatment is possible and easily goes away. Stage 1 breast cancer refers to when the malignant cells start attacking the healthy tissue and usually known as invasive breast cancer, and just like stage 0 cancer, it is highly treatable. Stage 2 breast cancer means cancer has grown and spread and requires highly aggressive treatment options. Stage 3 is when cancer is advanced stage but has not spread to other organs and bones. Although it is considered advanced, there are some treatment methods. Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of breast cancer, which also means that the malignant cells have already spread to bones and other organs. There are treatment options, but extremely strenuous and exhausting.
When breast cancer is in the development stage, there are usually no symptoms at all, but as it grows women should watch out for various signs such as lump or thickening in the breast or the underarm (Kabel & Baali, 2015). A change in size and shape of the breast, nipple discharge, or breast tenderness may also be a sign of breast cancer.
Essentially, as Kabel & Baali (2015) elaborate, diagnosis of cancer involves performing a careful physical examination alongside personal and family medical history. Apart from checking the general signs, the doctor may also do a palpation exam, order a mammography, or an ultrasonography to diagnose a breast lump. Further evaluation involves fine needle aspiration, needle biopsy, or surgical biopsy to diagnose the tissue or fluid removed from the breast.
Treatment of breast cancer involves three options, which include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy (Kabel & Baali, 2015). Surgery, which is the most commonly preferred treatment for breast cancer involves a surgical procedure to remove the cancer tumor in the breast or an operation to remove the breast. Usually, radiotherapy includes the use of high-energy x-rays to shrink and destroy cancerous cells. Chemotherapy uses cancer-killing drugs to destroy the cancerous cells. Other treatment options include hormonal therapy used to prevent hormones from reaching cancer cells and inhibit their growth.
Through continuing research, there are several treatment options based on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, as well as the lab results. A majority of those women who have breast cancer also want to learn all about the disease. Contacting the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service is one way to get updated cancer treatment information, including current clinical trials. Other sources may include getting help from various cancer hospitals all around the United States.
“Stages of Breast Cancer.” (2017). Breastcancer.org. Retrieved from: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/staging
“U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” (2017). Breastcancer.org. Retrieved from: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics
Jin, X., & Mu, P. (2015). Targeting Breast Cancer Metastasis. Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research, 9(1), pp. 23-34.
Kabel, A. M., & Baali, F. H. (2015). Breast Cancer: Insights into Risk Factors, Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management. Journal of Cancer Research and Treatment, 3(2), pp. 28-33.
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