Breaking the Bondage of Breast Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment

One out of thirteen women in their nineties is affected by one of the most common forms of cancer: Breast cancer. It is a cancer that affects the tissue in the breast area and is probably the second most deadly cancer in women; second only to lung cancer. Identical tissues found in the male and female breasts means that this cancer can also affect males. However, male breast cancer cases are very rare.

All women are at risk of breast cancer as it is not controlled by hereditary factors. Like most other diseases, breast cancer risk increases as a woman gets older. However, the probability of breast cancer is more aggressive in younger women. The most common type of cancer of this aggressive nature is inflammatory breast cancer. It does not show up as a lump in the breast and is therefore not detected often by an ultrasound.

One of the most common symptoms of breast cancer is a lump in the breast which can be detected through a mammography (or medical inspection conducted using X-ray equipment) or by actually feeling it on the flesh. Other symptoms may include a lump under the arm or near the collar bone, a liquid discharge from the breast or even nipple inversion. Because this type of cancer is very common in women and sometimes in men, medical screening is now conducted in hospitals around the world. MRI tests are also used to detect breast cancer but an MRI scan is not as effective as or more accurate than a mammography, which is the most widely accepted choice of screening for breast cancer.

Diagnosis of breast cancer is seen through an examination of removed breast tissue. This tissue can be obtained only through surgery. Different types of surgical procedures to obtain the tissue may include needle aspiration, core needle biopsy or local surgery. However, there is a possibility that not enough tissue is obtained for analysis. There are also imaging tests that can be taken to detect the cancer. This includes chest x-ray, bone scan, and MRI, to name a few. Since breast cancer goes through certain phases, it is easier to interpret particular data just by looking at the stages of the cancers growth.

Once a tumor is detected and localized, surgery takes place with possible hormonal therapies. These therapies include Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy, Immune Therapy and Hormone Therapy. Depending on particular criteria such as age, size and state of the cancer, patients are then divided into what are high-risk or low-risk cases. This means that there are different rules that must be followed in therapy. Of course, the emotional impact from such therapies is carefully considered and some hospitals have established support groups to address this issue properly.

Awareness of breast cancer is vital. Those who have survived and recognize the disease usually wear a pink ribbon that signifies the struggle that breast cancer victims go through. Worldwide, the month of October is recognized as Pink for October, or the month that gives relevance to breast cancer.

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