Understanding BREAST CANCER is important as this is the first lesson of our AWARENESS PROGRAMME, which all my sisters should know -
The Breasts sit on the chest muscles that cover the ribs. Each breast is made of 15 to 20 lobes. Lobes contain many smaller lobules. Lobules contain groups of tiny glands that can produce milk. Milk flows from the lobules through thin tubes called ducts to the nipple. The nipple is in the center of a dark area of skin called the areola. Fat fills the spaces between the lobules and ducts.
The breasts also contain lymph vessels. These vessels lead to small, round organs called lymph nodes. Groups of lymph nodes are near the breast in the axilla (underarm), above the collarbone, in the chest behind the breastbone, and in many other parts of the body. The lymph nodes trap bacteria, cancer cells, or other harmful substances.
Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body.
Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die, and new cells take their place.
Sometimes, this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.
Tumors can be benign or malignant:
Benign tumors are not cancer:
* Benign tumors are rarely life-threatening.
* Generally, benign tumors can be removed. They usually do not grow back.
* Cells from benign tumors do not invade the tissues around them.
* Cells from benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.
Malignant tumors are cancer:
* Malignant tumors are generally more serious than benign tumors. They may be life-threatening.
* Malignant tumors often can be removed. But sometimes they grow back.
* Cells from malignant tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs.
* Cells from malignant tumors can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Cancer cells spread by breaking away from the original (primar) tumor and entering the bloodstream or lymphatic system. The cells invade other organs and form new tumors that damage these organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.
When breast cancer cells spread, the cancer cells are often found in lymph nodes near the breast. Also, breast cancer can spread to almost any other part of the body. The most common are the bones, liver, lungs, and brain. The new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer. For that reason, it is treated as breast cancer, not bone cancer. Doctors call the new tumor "distant" or metastatic disease.
To my understanding there is no significant etiology and or prevention of Cancer as a whole. The American Cancer Society reports that there is no Sure Way to prevent breast cancer. However, early detection is critical and can mean the difference between life and death. What you can be sure of when it comes to cancer prevention is that making small changes to your everyday life might help reduce your chances of getting cancer. Although these measures provide no guarantee that you would not develop the disease, they will give you a start for breast cancer prevention, barring the certain risks over which you have no control - your age and genetic makeup.
For prevention of Breast Cancer, if at all we can do anything, it starts with our own Lifestyle choices and healthy habits - such as staying physically active, limiting alcohol and eating right. Among the easiest things to control are what you eat and drink and how active you are. Here are some strategies that may help you decrease your risk of breast cancer:
- Limit alcohol. A strong link exists between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. The type of alcohol consumed - wine, beer or mixed drinks - seems to make no difference. To help protect against breast cancer, limit alcohol to less than one drink a day or avoid alcohol completely.
- Maintain a healthy weight. There is a clear link between obesity and breast cancer. This is especially if you gain the weight after menopause. Excess fatty tissue is a source of circulating estrogen in your body. And breast cancer risk is linked to how much estrogen you are exposed to during your lifetime.
- Stay physically active. Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and in lowering your risk of breast cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
- Consider limiting fat in your diet. Results from the most definitive study of dietary fat and breast cancer risk to date suggest a slight decrease in risk of invasive breast cancer for women who eat a low fat diet. A low fat diet may protect against breast cancer in another way if it helps you maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid hormone replacement therapy if possible. Studies have shown a link between long time hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. This link suggests that combined HRTs (estrogen and progesterone) raise the risk factor. HRT also make mammograms less effective. If you need to take hormone replacement therapy, talk to your doctor about the risk and your personal condition.
- Check your breasts every month. Checking your breasts every month may not reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, but it may help detect breast cancer early. The earlier breast cancer is found, the less aggressive the treatment.
- Don't forget to get a mammogram - it's not a choice. Like the breast self exam, a mammogram would not prevent the development of breast cancer, but it can detect cancer. Sometimes it can be difficult to feel a lump in the breast, and a mammogram is likely to detect any lumps that cannot be felt.
- Have children earlier in life, if possible. Having no children or having your first child in your mid-thirties or later increases the risk.
- Consider breastfeeding instead of formula feeding. Researchers believe that the months without a period during pregnancy and breast feeding may reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer.
- Be cautious about Pesticides. Breast cancer incidence are linked to pesticide exposure. The molecular structure of some pesticides closely resembles that of estrogen. This means they may attach to estrogen receptor sites in your body.
- Avoid taking Unnecessary Antibiotics - Scientists recently found a link between antibiotic use and breast cancer - the longer antibiotics were used, the greater the risk of breast cancer.
- Nothing you do can guarantee your life will be cancer free. But if you practice healthy habits and consult your doctor about extra measures you can take, you may at least reduce your risk of this potentially fatal disease.-