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Breast Cancer: What to expect? How to Survive?

Updated on August 26, 2011

Before doctors were saying that the only chance a woman with breast cancer  to survive is through radical mastectomy- the removal of breasts, lymph node in the breast and armpit, and muscles in the breast. Chemotherapy or radiation usually adds up the pain and burden. That's why people fear the medication or the treatment than the disease itself.

In fighting with this kind of sickness, the usual goal is to kill the cancer cells immediately so there would be no need to remove the breasts and patients won't suffer from pain. Breast cancer patients today can choose among different options on what treatment or medication to be used to them. Also, the continuous research in medicine and reports of the media give hope that this cancer can be cured through the help of newly discover treatments, tests to know if a person is prone to this kind of disease and foods to eat to boost the immunity to fight cancer.

In spite of the progress in medicine, breast cancer is still the major cause of women who get cancer. There is a large count of people who have cancer in North America and Western Europe and there is also an increase in the percentage in Asia and Africa. Aside from that, there is a larger proportion of death in Asia and Africa compared to those who are diagnosed. Why? It's because it is seldom discovered immediately. Most patients consult the doctors when the case is already malignant/severe.

The older the person, the more prone he/she is to cancer. Over 80% of women with breast cancer are 50 years old and above. 

The possible causes

It is still a puzzle. According to critics, there are more researches done for the medicines and early diagnosis- to gain money- than discovering the causes and prevention. But scientists discovered an important clue. Some believe that breast cancer is a result of a complicated and a long process, starts in a defective gene that makes a cell to become abnormal- multiplies rapidly, fights the immune system, and attacks important organs and other tissues.

Where is the defective cell coming from?

In between 5% and 10% of cases, women are born with genes that can possibly cause cancer. But it seems that in many cases, healthy genes are destructed by other factors like radiation and chemicals, that are considered as suspects. It can be confirmed by future studies.

Another suspect is the estrogen hormone, that seems to be the cause of other kinds of breast cancer. That's why probably, women who got menstrual period very early or women who reach menopausal stage when they are already very old, or when they never gave birth or if they have undergone hormone replacement therapy. Because fat cells produce estrogen, women who are very fat is more prone to cancer even if they are already menopause, or when their ovaries no longer produce hormone. High level of insulin is included in the suspect list, as well as the low level of hormone for sleep which is "melatonin", a condition which is common to people who work at night.

Things to know about the Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is usually manifested through unusual lumps in the breast. But over 80% of those kinds of lumps are benign, mostly are just sacs full of fluid or so we called CYST.

Breast cancer starts with an abnormal cell that multiplies uncontrollably until it becomes tumor. Tumor becomes malignant, or cancer, when it spreads out to other tissues. There are tumors that enlarge fast; and there are some that take almost 10 years to be discovered.

To know if a patient has cancer, doctors use syringe to get sample of tissue from the lump. If detected that it has cancer cell, doctors suggest an operation to remove the tumor and the tissues around the breast to also know the stage (size, kind and it is already malignant) and grade (how fast does it grow) of the tumor.

After the operation, many patients will still have to undergo additional medication or treatment for the cancer not to relive or spread out. There could be cancer cell which separated itself from the tumor, flows in the bloodstreams or lymphatic system, creating another tumor. The spreading out of cancer, the so-called "metastasis", in the important organs and tissues in the body-brain, liver, bone marrow, or lungs- is the one deadly.

A patient undergoes a chemotherapy or radiation to kill the cancer cells that spread out around the spot where the tumor was removed and in the whole body. Because the cancer is being relived by estrogen, a patient also undergoes anti-hormonal therapy so there will be no other cancer to occur.

Because of the progressive growth in cancer medication, patients now have several options to take based on their age, health, type of cancer and cancer history.

We have lots of ideas and knowledge about cancer but the question is still: Why does a person get breast cancer and how does it start?

Are we nearly to discover most effective and convenient way to cure breast cancer?

Researchers are working hard to seek, discover and create various therapies that can boost immune system of human body as well as medicines that can kill molecular pathway or network of genes and proteins that cause cancer. Meanwhile, because of more effective imaging technology, radiation therapy becomes more effective and accurate.

In fighting with breast cancer, scientists work hard to discover the process of metastasis, fight cancer cells that can't be killed by medicines, control the signals of cell propagation and relate the medicine to the kinds of tumor.

Coping up the side effects of medication

Curing breast cancer may have the following side effects:

-vomiting, hair loss, over fatigue, pain, numbness, and skin problems

Below are the simple ways to lighten up the burden.

1. Eat nutritious foods to boost body resistance.

2. Make a record of your energy level and reaction to food.

3. See if medicines are helpful, acupuncture, or massage to lessen the vomiting and pain.

4. Exercise a little to moderate to make yourself more lively, to control your weight, and increase your body's resistance.

5. Have plenty of rest, but not too much sleep.

6. Don't let your skin becomes dry. Wear loose and comfortable clothes. Shower with warm water.



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    • cindyannette profile image

      cindyannette 5 years ago from Missouri (USA)

      Great information! Thanks for writing this!