Breast Cancer from A to Z

October is breast cancer awareness month and this post is specifically for the Blogadda’s Online Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. I was tagged by Abha Midha for this noble cause.

There is a plethora of information available online on Breast Cancer–way more than one person could ever read. This post is an effort to present the info on Breast Cancer in a concise manner and from A to Z…

Age Age is the most significant risk factor. Breast cancer is rare in women younger than 25 years. Incidence increases with age, with a plateau in women aged 50-55 years.

Breast Self Examination
A breast biopsy is a procedure in which part or all of a suspicious breast growth is removed and examined, usually for the presence of cancer. The growth sample is suctioned out through a needle or cut out using a surgical procedure. The sample is then examined and evaluated under a microscope by a pathologist to identify non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant) tissue.Breast self-examination (BSE) is a screening method used in an attempt to detect early breast cancer. The method involves the woman herself looking at and feeling each breast for possible lumps, distortions or swelling.
Chemotherapy Depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can:

  • Cure cancer – when chemotherapy destroys cancer cells to the point that the doctor can no longer detect them in the body and they will not grow back.
  • Control cancer – when chemotherapy keeps cancer from spreading, slows its growth, or destroys cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
  • Ease cancer symptoms (also called palliative care) – when chemotherapy shrinks tumours that are causing pain or pressure.
Diagnosis Screening techniques are useful in determining the possibility of cancer, a further testing is necessary to confirm whether a lump detected on screening is cancer, as opposed to a benign alternative such as a simple cyst.
Breast cancer is commonly diagnosed using a “triple test” of clinical breast examination, mammography, and fine needle aspiration cytology. Other options are core biopsy, excisional biopsy, and vacuum-assisted breast biopsy
Evaluation Breast cancer evaluation should be approached with an ordered inquiry beginning with symptoms and general clinical history, followed by clinical examination and, finally, investigation, which may include imaging and biopsy.
This approach naturally lends itself to a gradually increasing degree of invasiveness, so that when a diagnosis is obtained, the process can be stopped with the minimum amount of invasion and, consequently, minimum discomfort to the patient. Because the more invasive investigations also tend to be the most expensive, this approach is usually the most economical.
Fears Most people go through several stages of fear when they are first diagnosed. A big part of the fear of breast cancer diagnosis is all the uncertainty and the feeling that you’ve lost control of your life — being swept away on an uncharted journey that you don’t want to take. It’s hard to imagine how anything good could happen on this particular trip.
Genes Variations of the BRCA1, BRAC2, CDH1, PTEN, STK11 and TP53 genes increase the risk of developing breast cancer. The AR, ATM, BARD1, BRIP1, CHEK2, DIRAS3, ERBB2, NBN, PALB2, RAD50, AND RAD51 genes are associated with breast cancer.
History Breast cancer may be one of the oldest known forms of cancerous tumours in humans. The oldest description of cancer was discovered in Egypt and dates back to approximately 1600 BC. The Edwin Smith Papyrus describes 8 cases of tumours or ulcers of the breast that were treated by cauterization.
Incidence Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, after skin cancer, representing 16% of all female cancers. The rate is more than twice that of colorectal cancer and cervical cancer and about three times that of lung cancer. Mortality worldwide is 25% greater than that of lung cancer in women.
Job The impact of a breast cancer diagnosis on work life and day to day matters can vary from person to person. For some people, the effect is minimal. Some may have an understanding supervisor, a flexible schedule, and an encouraging team to support them through treatment. For others, there might be some questions about how to manage work (at office or home) and treatment.
Keloid A type of scar can occur after a surgical incision. A very severe form of a scar, it actually grows into normal uninvolved skin and does not resolve over a period of time. Also called hypertrophic scarring.
Lumpectomy Surgery to remove the breast tumour and a small margin of surrounding normal tissue
Mammography An x-ray of the breast; used to screen for or investigate breast abnormalities and breast cancer, particularly those which are too small to be felt by physical examination. Mammograms are made using a special x-ray machine designed specifically for this purpose. Screening mammography is used for early detection of breast cancer in women without any breast symptoms. Diagnostic mammography is used to help characterize suspicious breast masses or determine the cause of other breast symptoms.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by the media as well as survivors, family and friends of survivors and/or victims of the disease
Other Names
  • Breast cancer, familial
  • Breast carcinoma
  • Cancer of breast
  • Malignant neoplasm of breast
  • Malignant tumor of breast
  • Mammary cancer

Pink Ribbon

A pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness. It may be worn to honour those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. In the fall of 1991, Susan G. Komen for the Cure handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.
Quality of Life Women who have had treatment for breast cancer should be reassured that while they may be left with reminders of their treatment (such as surgical scars), their overall quality of life, once treatment has been completed, can be normal. Extensive studies have shown this. Women who have had chemotherapy may, however, notice a slight decrease in certain areas of function.
Risk Factors The primary epidemiologic and risk factors that have been identified are sex, age lack of childbearing or breastfeeding, higher hormone levels, race and economic status, Personal history of breast cancer, family history, and certain breast changes.
Symptoms According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:

  • swelling of all or part of the breast
  • skin irritation or dimpling
  • breast pain
  • nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • a lump in the underarm area

These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. It’s important to get any breast changes checked out promptly by a doctor.

Treatment Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery and then possibly with chemotherapy or radiation, or both. Hormone positive cancers are treated with long term hormone blocking therapy. Treatments are given with increasing aggressiveness according to the prognosis and risk of recurrence.
Uncertain or Unproven Risk Factors Most studies found that breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is low in fat. On the other hand, many studies of women in the United States have not found breast cancer risk to be linked to how much fat they ate. Researchers are still not sure how to explain this difference. More research is needed to better understand the effect of the types of fat eaten and body weight on breast cancer risk.
Vacuum-assisted Breast Biopsy Vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a tissue sampling technique that uses a special instrument and imaging guidance to remove samples of breast tissue through a single, small skin incision. This technique allows the surgeon to remove more tissue through a single incision than is possible with a traditional core biopsy and is a much less invasive procedure than an open surgical biopsy. For these reasons, vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is becoming more common as a diagnostic tool in the management of breast lumps and abnormalities.
Weight Being overweight or obese is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially for women after change of life or if the weight gain took place during adulthood. The risk seems to be higher if the extra fat is around the waist.
But the link between weight and breast cancer risk is complex. And studies of fat in the diet as it relates to breast cancer risk have often given conflicting results. The American Cancer Society recommends you stay at a healthy weight throughout your life and avoid gaining too much weight.
X-rays A high-energy form of radiation. X-rays form an image of body structures by travelling through the body and striking a sheet of film. Breast x-rays are called mammograms.
Yoga An ancient Indian system of practices used to balance the mind and body through exercise, meditation (focusing thoughts), and control of breathing and emotions. Yoga is being studied as a way to relieve stress and treat sleep problems in breast cancer patients.
Zinecard A drug used to reduce heart damage in women given doxorubicin for breast cancer that has spread. It is also being studied in the treatment of cancer. Zinecard contains the active ingredient dexrazoxane. It is a type of cardioprotective agent, a type of chemoprotective agent, and a type of topoisomerase inhibitor.

We can do a lot by creating awareness, so calling my fellow blogger friends Neha, Sreya, Smitha, Insignia and Scribbler to join in this campaign… Lets say bye bye to breast cancer.

Also linking this post to Write Tribe : World Cancer Day