Breast cancer - Evaluation and Prevention

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a highly treatable disease that now has a survival rate of 85 percent. Yet more than 212,000 women are still diagnosed with the condition each year. Since early diagnosis is an important key to successful treatment, doctors say it's important that all women over the age of 18 do a Breast Self-Exam (BSE) every month, two or three days after their menstrual cycle. In addition, women between 20 and 39 should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years and women 40 and older should have a mammogram every year. For the past 11 years, BMW of North America has worked with The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation-the largest fund-raiser for breast cancer research in America-to help spread the message of early detection and to help ensure that breast cancer research continues. The groups' Ultimate Drive program has raised millions to help fund the efforts. The initiative, fully underwritten by BMW, consists of two fleets of specifically badged BMWs making a cross-country trek, stopping in communities along the way to hold daylong events. People will be invited to test-drive the cars-at no cost to the participants-to raise money for breast cancer research, education and screening treatment programs. The car company donates $1 directly to the Komen Foundation for each mile driven, along with whatever other proceeds are received from the program. Upon completion of every drive, each participant adds his or her own name to the Signature Vehicle-this year, a BMW 3-Series. This year's goal is to raise over $1 million, bringing the program's 10-year total up to over $10 million. To help celebrate the initiative's 10th anniversary, the 240-stop cross-country trek has been expanded to include Alaska.

People can test-drive the cars to help fight breast cancer. They can also:

  • Regularly conduct BSEs, have clinical exams and mammograms
  • Stop smoking and stressing
  • Get more exercise
  • Cut or reduce their alcohol consumption
  • Watch their diet. Try to eat plenty of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, grains, fresh fish and poultry.

In the battle against breast cancer, patients are increasingly prescribed oral medications, such as hormonal therapy, to limit the risk of disease recurrence. Research has indicated that patients should stay on these drugs for five years to gain maximum benefits. But recently, the healthcare community has started to ask a question once limited to managing common colds, not cancer: Do breast cancer patients take their medications as prescribed? According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year in the U.S. Of those, approximately 100,000 have cancer types that are likely to respond to hormonal therapy.

Taking the therapy as prescribed for the full five years can reduce their risk of recurrence. Easier Said than Done. Based on findings from a recent symposium on medication adherence among breast cancer patients, candidates for hormonal therapy-some 500,000 women in the U.S.-may not be reaping the full benefits of their drug regimens. According to some research studies, non-compliance rates have reached as high as 40 percent. The Symposium, called the Compliance Strategic Initiative (CSI), addressed issues that lead to medication non-compliance among breast cancer patients, and it identified possible solutions to these issues. Representatives from leading patient advocacy organizations and professional healthcare associations, as well as oncology experts and survivors from across the nation, gathered to share their perspectives. The CSI was led by a Steering Committee which included representatives from the American Cancer Society, CancerCare, the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), and Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization.

  • Through research, we know that five years of adjuvant hormonal therapy in women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer prolongs survival and reduces recurrence," said D. Lawrence Wickerham, MD, associate chairman of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project. "And yet, studies also show that not all patients stay on hormonal therapy as prescribed. It is important that healthcare providers understand why women make that decision, so we can address the issue with the information, resources and support needed to help them through this part of their treatment." Based on results of the meeting, participants gained a better understanding of the factors that contributed to non-compliance. Among those factors: patients often do not feel empowered to talk with their doctors about tough issues, such as side effects; doctors and other healthcare professionals aren't equipped with resources to assist patients in coping with or eliminating side effects; and after their acute phase of treatment, women may often feel they are left to manage therapy on their own. Physicians are under increasing pressures of time and performance and may not always have the skill set to listen well to their patients, or, simply not realize their patients may not be taking their medication.

These factors combine to create communication gaps through which compliance issues can fall. In conclusion, breast oncology advocates and experts who attended the symposium agreed that patient support mechanisms can and must be improved. Healthcare providers and patients each play pivotal roles. Through education and communication, they can begin to take the steps that will help some breast cancer patients reduce their risk of recurrence. Two in five breast cancer patients don't take their medication properly. The biggest majority of women who concern themselves over develping breast cancer are the ones who do not even bother to do a self examination (Not all) Self inspection of the breasts should be a main priority for every woman. Breast cancer caught in the early stages of growth will give better odds for the patient to control the disease with the help of today`s modern medicines and technology. Breast cancer is common among the female species and can be a death sentence if ignored. By neglecting yourself in this department with absent regular check ups then Patient can expect a painful road ahead - comgested of heartache and pain for those close to Patient as well. Breast cancer is treatable, so now is the time to set a date in the diary for regular self breast examination.

One of the first signs or symptoms of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. Patient will find that most breast lumps discovered early are rated as 9 out of 10 as being benign. Breast lumpiness can be that of breast change which usually becomes more obvious just before the start of a period, particularly in women over the age of 35. Also cysts/sacs of fluid is not uncommon in the breast tissue causing a feel of lumpiness. Fibroadenoma is a collection of fibrous glandular tissue which is more notably known to occur in Patientnger women. If Patient notice a change in the shape/size of the breast or a lump even thickening then always check this out with Patient's doctor. Other signs to look out for is dimpling of the skin or nipple shape changing, for example, if ithe nipple turns in or sinks back into the breast. Blood-stained discharge from the nipple or an unusual blemish or rash around the surrounding area needs to be checked out. A swelling or lump under Patient's armpit can also be a sign. If Patient have found that Patient have any of the above symptoms then seek medical attention right away.

Do not worry at this stage because breast lumps as such do not necessarily mean cancer. However the above mentioned inverted nipple or blood stained discharge etc can mean another type of ailment, either way these will need attention. The doctor will examine the breast and if necessary will refer Patient to a specialist for further checks. If the results from a mammogram or ultra sound shows a cyst, then to have it removed may entail draining it through a fine needle. If the lump is solid then treatment will be with the use of a very fine needle where a sample of tissue will be taken and tested for cancer cells. This is a disease Patient can fight but once it spreads, then the breast cancer becomes a battlefield leaving Patient fighting for survival. Early detection can stop this war. Cosmetic Surgery for women is common after a a breast operation.

Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor developed from cells of the breast, and it is one of the most common cancers affecting women. At this time it has not been established what is the exact cause of breast cancer, but the latest research clearly points to several risks factors; These are the highest breast cancer risk factors; the latest researches have established that in the age group above 50 years there is a high incidence; on the other hand, in the age group below 25 years the incidence is very low. It is very important to say that this disease is very aggressive in patient 25-50 years old. Menstrual cycle is another factor that should be considered; common in the ladies who have a longer menstrual life, i.e. the onset of their menstrual cycle is earlier and cessation of menstruation is late. Women that smoke and drink alcohol increase their risk of developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is developed more frequently in older single women and married woman that have not given birth to children, or if given birth then have not breast fed their offspring. The women that have had a breast cancer on one side have greater risk to develop cancer on the opposite side, and if there are incidences of breast cancer in their families (mother, sisters and daughters), they are at greater risk too.

  • Breast cancer is linked with obesity and higher intake of saturated fatty acids
  • Breast cancer is linked too, with the continuous or sequential uses of combined oestrogen plus progestin hormone therapy (CHT)
  • Women that have been using oral contraceptives for more than ten years are more vulnerable to the development of this disease.

On the other hand, women doing 4-5 hours of exercises per week reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. In short, these facts derive from the statistical analysis; they should not be taken as causative or predisposing factors. Today’s woman is more knowledgeable and conscientious than ever about the risks of breast cancer. This is especially true for women over 40 years of age, who have crossed the threshold of increased risk of breast cancer. Age is so important to the development of breast cancer that about 76% of women who develop it have no other risk factors other than age. However, all women, regardless of age or race, need to acknowledge the risk of developing it. All women are at risk. Women who have never smoked a day in their entire lives can develop breast cancer. Women who have been always been health conscious can also develop it. In fact, nearly one woman out of eleven will experience breast cancer. A staggering statistic by anybody’s standards! An estimated 211,000 new cases of breast cancer was diagnosed this past year. Even with the increased awareness programs, early detection through annual mammography screening and instruction for self-examination, breast cancer remains a leading cause of death for women.

Breast cancer, like other forms of cancer, is a disease of the cells. In all, there are about fifteen different types of breast cancer. Some are more serious than others, but the one common factor each shares is that neither the cause nor the cure has been found.

There are four recognized developmental stages of breast cancer:

  1. State 0: Cancer cells are present in either the lining of the milk glands (lobules), or in the tubes (ducts) that link the milk glands to the nipple. No cancer cells have spread to the nearby fatty tissue.
  2. Stage 1: Cancer has spread to nearby fatty tissue in the breast. Tumor size is about 1” or under; no cancer cells are present in surrounding lymph nodes.
  3. Stage 2: Size of tumor is 1” to 2” in diameter; cancer cells may have also spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  4. Stage 3: Cancer is locally advanced. Tumors are approximately 2” or larger in diameter, or tumors of any size have spread to lymph nodes under the arm or in the chest (above or below the collarbone).
  5. Stage 4: Metastatic, advanced breast cancer. The cancer has spread from the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body.

Early detection of breast cancer remains a woman’s best chance of survival, and women of all ages should take advantage of all the resources available.

Every woman should:

  1. Become educated about the risk factors associated with breast cancer.
  2. Become knowledgeable about the types, stages, and symptoms of breast cancer.
  3. Learn the correct procedure for self-examination tests, and perform them routinely.

Long-term use of oral contraceptives, early menstruation, late first full-term pregnancy, exposure to high doses of radiation – puberty through childbearing years, and inherited genetic mutation can all increase a woman’s risk of acquiring breast cancer.

Women 40 years of age and older should also:

  1. Have an annual mammography screening.
  2. Become educated about increased age-related risks associated with breast cancer.

Recent studies confirm that risk of breast cancer in midlife increases with regular consumption of alcohol, hormone replacement therapy, weight, and body mass distribution. During self-examination, look for a lump or thickening in the breast, a discharge from the nipple, scaliness on the skin or around the nipple, a change in shape, color, or texture, and dimpling or puckering. If Patient detect a lump, don’t panic. About 85-percent of all lumps turn out to be nonmalignant. Make an appointment with Patient's doctor for a more thorough examination, and tests. Treatment for breast cancer today is often less radical than in years past, and chances for survival much better when the tumor is discovered early. Breast cancer usually happens when certain cells located in the breast start to grow out of control, taking over nearby tissue and spreading throughout the body. Large collections of this infected tissue are called "tumors". Some tumors are not even considered to be cancer because they cannot spread throughout the body or threaten a person's life. These types of tumors are called "benign tumors".

The types of tumors that do spread throughout the body and invade the tissues around the breast are considered to be cancer and have been given the name "malignant tumors". It is said that any type of tissue in the breast can form some type of cancer, but it mostly comes from either ducts or glands. It can take months or even years for a tumor to get big enough for someone to actually feel it in their breast, so they are encouraged to be screened for tumors by a mammogram. Mammograms are designed to detect any type of disease before a person even begins to feel it. Breast cancer is the most common "malignancy" that affects women in America and throughout Europe. Every single woman is at risk of getting breast cancer and almost 200,000 cases of were said to be diagnosed in the United States in 2001. It is the second highest cause, behind lung cancer, of cancer deaths among women in North America. The types of risk factors for breast cancer are divided into two types, those Patient can't change and those Patient can change. The factors associated with increasing Patient's risk of breast cancer that Patient's can't change include: just being a woman, getting older, or having some type of family history or a relative with breast cancer. Other risk factors are having Patient's menopause late, having children past the age of thirty, or contracting a genetic mutation that would somehow increase Patient's risk. Certain types of risk factors that Patient can change are: not taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which means that long term uses of estrogens for menopause symptoms does in fact slightly increase Patient's risk. Stopping the use of birth control pills, because it is noted that ten years following the cessation of The Pill, a woman's risk of breast cancer reverts to what it would have been if she had not used this form of birth control. However, neither of these risks are as significant as the ones that are associated with Patient's gender, age, and family history. All the factors are based on probabilities, and that means that a person without any of those mentioned is still subject to developing breast cancer and the best way to be sure is to get the proper screening and detection for breast cancer development. There are preventative measures that can be taken, up to a point. It is noted that a drug called Tamoxifen is not used widely as a prevention, but it has been proved to be helpful in some cases. There is also a limited amount of data that suggests that Vitamin A may be useful in the prevention of breast cancer, but further research is needed to prove this. The most important step for a woman to prevent breast cancer is to schedule regular checkups, screenings and mammograms, learn how to perform her own exams, and also to acquire all the information she can about the subject.

I always advocate self-care as the first step in preventing and treating health challenges. When it comes to breast health, the importance of self-care is a message I can't share often enough. It is great to see pink ribbons everywhere in October during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! If I had my wish, every pink ribbon would carry an additional important message for women. That message would read "Patient can improve Patient's breast health and reduce the risk of breast cancer right now with a few simple lifestyle changes." We may not be able to control where we live or our genetic risk factors- it's true. However, a growing body of research is showing us that women really can make a difference in their breast health through diet, exercise, and weight management. These simple steps can help optimize Patient's body's hormonal balance and reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, and provide additional health, anti-aging, and disease-prevention benefits.

  • We need to emphasize that everyone should be focusing on what we can control not what we can't.
  • We can evaluate our hormone levels with a saliva test. The best way for premenopausal and postmenopausal women to know if their bodies have an imbalance of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone is to do a saliva test. Saliva Testing is the most accurate and easy way to this.
  • We can use bio-identical hormones if we need hormone supplementation. Bio Identical means that the molecular structure of the hormones identically match the hormones made by our body as opposed to Pregnant Mare's Urine which is natural to horses not humans.
  • We can change our habits: reduce alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
  • We can manage our weight and exercise daily. Studies also show that maintaining a healthy, average weight is just as important in favorably influencing the estrogen/progesterone ratio.
  • Regular exercise is equally important. On the other hand, obesity, high insulin levels, alcohol intake, smoking, oral contraceptives, hormones from meat and meat products, pesticides, and herbicides can swing this ratio in the wrong direction.
  • We can eat a balanced diet choosing Eat organic to avoid pesticides, herbicides, and estrogens in meat and dairy products. Include one to three servings of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage in Patient's diet each day. Studies show that Indole 3 Carbinol the active ingredient helps balance estrogen levels.
  • We Can supplement wisely with EFA's, essential fatty acids and use a fruit and vegetable concentrate if Patient do not eat 5 - 8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • We can do BSE's breast self exams becoming more familiar with our own body
  • We can become better informed read Dr. John Lee's "What Patient's Doctor May Not Tell Patient About Breast Cancer" as a start.

The more Patient understand about any subject, the more interesting it becomes. As Patient read this article Patient'll find that the subject of cancer is certainly no exception.

We hear it all the time?lose weight for Patient's health. Few people however, realize the extent to which this is critical to their physical well-being and ultimately their life expectancy.<br><br>

In January 2003, the Journal of the American Medical Association featured a study finding that obesity appears to lessen life expectancy, especially among Patientng adults. The researchers compared Body-Mass Index (BMI) to longevity and found a correlation between premature death and higher BMIs. For example, a 20-year-old white male, 5'10" weighing 288 pounds with a BMI of greater than 40 was estimated to lose 13 years of his life as a result of obesity.Jamie McManus, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. and author of "Patient's Personal Guide to Wellness" notes that while this study referenced extreme levels of obesity, there are still millions of overweight people in developed countries with a life expectancy rate that is three to five years less than their healthy-weight counterparts. She also estimates that there are 600,000 obesity related deaths each year in America.

Just how does obesity shorten our lifespan? The answer to this question is complex, yet there is a clear link between obesity and the development of cancer. An extensive study conducted by the American Cancer Institute involving 750,000 people showed that obesity significantly increased the risk of cancer developing in the following organs: breast, colon, ovaries, uterus, pancreas, kidneys and gallbladder.

Michael Thun, MD, vice-president of epidemiology and surveillance research for the American Cancer Society (ACS) says one reason obesity may raise cancer risk is because fat cells produce a form of estrogen called estradiol that promotes rapid division of cells, increasing chances of a random genetic error while cells are replicating, which can lead to cancer. In addition, fat centered around the abdomen may increase insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the blood, which may increase cancer risk. "Women who are obese after menopause have a 50% higher relative risk of breast cancer," notes Thun, "and obese men have a 40% higher relative risk of colon cancer?. Gallbladder and endometrial cancer risks are five times higher for obese individuals".There is evidence that cancer rates in developed countries are increasing at 5 to 15 times faster than developing countries. A major contributor to this alarming reality has proven to be diet. In populations where the diet consists mostly of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains in contrast to the typical Western diet of fatty meats, refined flours, oils and sugars the risk of cancer is much lower. The interaction of diet and the development of cancer is an active field of research and Dr David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. and author of "What Color is Patient's Diet", says "It appears that diet has its most significant effects after the cancer has already formed, acting to inhibit or stimulate the growth of that cancer". At the risk of oversimplifying a complex set of interactions, the typical Western diet that leads to obesity may actually act to stimulate the growth of cancer cells.It is never too late to improve Patient's health through healthful eating and adopting a more health-giving lifestyle. Here are simple steps to follow which can make an immediate improvement to Patient's health and vitality.

The best time to learn about cancer is before Patient're in the thick of things. Wise readers will keep reading to earn some valuable cancer experience while it's still free.

  1. Check Patient's Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if weight has become health risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of Americans are overweight, defined as having a BMI (a ratio of height to weight) over 25. Of those, nearly half (27%) qualify as obese, with a body mass index of 30 or more. In 1980, just 15% of Americans were considered obese. Patient can check Patient's BMI at the website below.
  2. Match Patient's diet to Patient's body's requirements. If Patient eat and drink more calories than Patient's body requires Patient will put on weight. Learn to control calories and portion sizes, make recipes leaner, and eat infrequently from fast food restaurants. Also learn how to snack with healthful choices.
  3. Color Patient's diet with a large variety of colorful, cancer-fighting fruit and vegetables. There are seven different color ranges of both fruit and vegetables and by choosing between 5 to 9 daily serves from a wide range of fruit and vegetables, we are extending our consumption of cancer (and other disease) fighting nutrients.
  4. Eat lean protein with every meal. Protein provides a powerful signal to the brain providing a longer sense of fullness. The right source of protein is essential to controlling Patient's hunger with fewer calories and necessary to maintain Patient's lean muscle mass. Choices of protein should be flavored soy shakes with fruit; the white meat of chicken and turkey, seafood such as shrimps, prawns scallops and lobster and ocean fish or vegetarians may prefer soy based meat substitutes.
  5. Rev up Patient's metabolism with activity. If Patient want to enjoy a lifetime of well-being, exercise is a key ingredient. Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society (ACS), says adults should do something for 30 minutes each day that takes as much effort as a brisk walk. Children should be active for an hour each day. We are more likely to develop habits around things we enjoy, so seek activities which Patient enjoy doing. It is also helpful to build physical activity into Patient's daily routine: use the stairs instead of the escalator or lift at work, park Patient's car in the parking bay furthest from the super marketing and don't use the remote control to change TV channels.
  6. Get support to ensure Patient develop a healthful eating plan and reach Patient's goal weight. Whilst a small percentage of people possess the discipline to lose weight, many obese people have developed strong thoughts and habits concerning the food they eat. In order to establish new habits, most people respond well to some form of consistent encouragement and coaching. A study, "Effects of Internet Behavioral Counseling on Weight Loss in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes" shows that participants who had the support of weight loss coaching lost more weight than those who didn't. The study concluded that the support of a weight loss coach can significantly improve weight loss results. Being overweight or obese has been identified next to smoking, as the most preventable major risk to developing cancer. Even small weight losses have been shown to have beneficial health effects.