Saturday, September 5, 2009

Breast cancer

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What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the common form of cancer in women. It kills nearly 40,000 American women each year. About one out of every 10 women will eventually develop it. If detected and treated early, before it spreads to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, chances for survival are better than 90 percent.

What causes breast cancer?
The exact cause is unknown, but the risk seems to be higher for women whose mothers, sisters, or other close relatives had breast cancer. It is also higher for women who never had children or those who had their first child after age 30. Some studies suggest than a diet high in animal fats may be a factor. Other women develop cancer that is related to hormone levels. Despite what many people think, breast cancer is not caused by blows, bruises, giving birth, nursing a baby, or sexual activity.

How is breast cancer diagnosed and treated?
A biopsy is needed to established a definitive diagnosis. At one time, a radical mastectomy, or total removal of the breast and underlying muscle and tissue, was the major treatment. Today, a modified mastectomy that preserves normal arm and shoulder movements favored. Recent studies show that the use of chemotherapy and/ or radiation therapy in addition to a mastectomy improve survival.
Small, localized cancers can sometimes be treated with a lumpectomy (removal of only the lump and surrounding tissue), followed by radiation.
An increasing number of women are having breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Improved techniques have resulted in soft, natural-looking breast prostheses, minimizing the disfigurement associated with mastectomy.

  • Breast lump or thickening
  • bleeding or discharge from the nipple
  • Charge in breast shape or contour
  • Dimpling or puckering of skin
  • retraction or scaliness of the nipple
  • Inflamed reddish appearance
What can I do to avoid breast cancer?
  • Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but it is highly curable if found early
  • Every women should have a baseline mammogram between the age of 35 and 39 to help detect changes in later years. Between age 40 to 50 have a mammogram every one to two years, and if you are over 50, have one annually.
The longer you wait to have breast cancer treated, the more likely it is spread to other parts of the body.

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