Science One World EssayInvasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast CancerAlzira Fernandes One in eight out of all women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. With about 1.3million diagnosed and 465,000 dying per year, it is the second most common canceramongst women, next to lung cancer. This has a huge economical impact on the worldaccording to healthcare- as women rely more on coverage and hospitalization. Whilemany people don’t really think about how many types of breast cancer there are, theseverity of the disease varies with the type. Most types of breast cancer are caused bylifestyle choices such as smoking, a high fat diet and exposure to the sun. Howeverthere are also genetic and bodily factors of getting breast cancer. If your closest femalerelative (mother, sister, daughter) has had breast cancer, if you started menstruatingbefore age 12 (or had late menopause after age 55), or if you have never had childrenor have had your first child after 30 your risk of getting breast cancer increases. Theseare social issues that affect women everyday who have the cancer, needing toconstantly think about their family getting it. Ironically, the women who are at the highestrisk are ones who have already had breast cancer.
The most common type of breast cancer is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) breastcancer. If your breast cancer is “Invasive” that means it has grown beyond the layer ofcells in the breast from where it started. Carcinoma is a word used to describe a cancerthat begins in the epithelial cells (lining layers) of organs, such as the breast. Nearly allbreast cancers are either ductal carcinomas, or lobular carcinomas with 8 out of 10invasive breast cancers being Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC). The basics of how IDCoccurs is that it starts in the duct of the breast (see Figure 1), breaks through the wall ofthe duct, and stays put in the fatty tissue of the breast. The cancer may then be able tometastasize (spread) to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymphaticsystem. Sometimes the cancer may spread to you lymph nodes. If lymph nodes areinvolved with your cancer, a special type of treatment will be required. Figure 1- Basic Breast StructureTo see if you in fact have IDC, the way to know is if a lump in your breast is foundsurrounded by scar tissue that contains cancer cells. While there are some long-termtreatments to this cancer such as lifestyle change or dieting (which are normally done
during rehabilitation; a high fat diet can result in tumors or lumps in the breast), more immediate surgical treatments are usually performed. One surgical procedure is having a lumpectomy. This involves removing the lump in the breast and any surrounding tissue (see Figure 2), followed by radiation to kill remaining cancerous cells. Lymph nodes may also be taken to perform a biopsy- if the lymph nodes are positive that means cancer is involved. If they are negative, there are no cancer cells. Another more drastic surgical procedure is having a mastectomy. A mastectomy is getting rid of all the breast tissue in the breast where the cancer was found, and the breast is removed. Mastectomies used to be the standard surgical procedure for treating breast cancer a few decades ago before lumpectomies were introduced.Figure 2- Parts of a LumpectomyA- dark circle where tumor isB- surrounding tissue being removed
The most obvious advantage lumpectomies have are cosmetic appearance. Theamount of breast that needs to be removed in a lumpectomy all differs on the size andlocation of the lump in the breast. Women can also discuss how much of the breast willbe removed with her doctor before undergoing surgery, so that she will know what toexpect. Mastectomies are a very drastic yet freeing procedure for women. Afterundergoing a mastectomy, they feel more relieved as all the tissue has been removedfrom their breast and are therefore free of lingering cancerous cells. While there may beloss, physically, from removing the breast, there is gain mentally from being freed ofcancer. There are quite a few disadvantages to these treatments, just as there wereadvantages. Lumpectomies should not typically be performed if the woman hasextensive cancer, which has spread to various areas of the breast or with problematictumors that have attached to the chest wall or skin. With these problems, the patientwould need extensive surgery which requires removing the tumors, or a mastectomyremoving the whole breast. While in mastectomies the woman will recover from breastcancer with no compilations, the lymph nodes under the arm could have beendamaged. If the arm where lymph nodes have been removed starts to swell, it could bea sign of injury to the nerves in that area. This could very well results in damaging thenervous system or surrounding lymph nodes. Breast cancer delivers a big strain on economically struggling families. It is themost commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in the US, and therefore requires a lot ofcare (see Figure 3). Costs need to be covered for treatment, hospitalization, expensesfor transportation or foods with higher nutritional value during recovery. The Canadian
Breast Cancer Network performed a study that found that 80% of breast cancer patients experienced financial repercussions, with about a 10% drop in yearly household income. Many people have also been losing jobs due to the bad economy, which means that less people will be getting healthcare. When the economy suffers, breast cancer suffers.Figure 3- Expenditures for CancerCare in the United States (2006)
The impact that breast cancer has on the social lives of many women is quite drastic.After a women has undergone surgery such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy, it not onlyaffects them physically but mentally. Seeing everyday that half (or all) of their breast isgone is very degrading to most women, as they have felt like they’ve lost part of theirwomanhood. The emotional impact is much larger than the cosmetics of surgeries,because of the loss of confidence. If a part of the body has just been removed, a senseof weakness takes over. This makes for a very unhappy woman. Breast cancer can be described in many ways. For some women (usually theones who do have it), it is a struggle and a disease that they just can’t wait to get out oftheir body. For other women (usually the ones who do not have it), it is an opportunity tofight and stand up for a good cause. So many organizations around the world, such asthe National Breast Cancer Foundation®, are helping women battle breast cancer byraising money to help women receive mammograms, which are x-rays to determine ifyou have breast cancer. Although breast cancer is a greatly feared disease for a lot ofwomen, it gives people a chance to go forward andhelp others by coming together.
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