Breast Cancer Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in most in women today (NABCO: Facts About Breast Cancer 1). It is a known fact that its cure and origin are unknown. Breast cancer is when an uncontrolled growth of cells without a specific function form in the breast area of a person, killing normal cells and tissue. This process in turn causes a lump or mass to form known as cancer. Although breast cancer cannot be prevented, there are some steps a person can take to reduce the risks. These steps are knowing your family history, routine self breast examinations, yearly routine mammograms for women 40 and over, and an annual breast examination by a medical professional.

Every woman is at risk for breast cancer and she is at an even higher risk if she has a family history of breast cancer. Thats why it is extremely important for every woman to know her family history. About 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary and that the most common of these result from mutations (changes) of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes. Normally, these genes help to prevent cancer by making proteins that keep the cells from growing abnormally. (American Cancer Association: Breast Cancer Resource Center 3).

Even if your family doesnt have the history, its good information to have for future reference. Second, a woman should perform a monthly breast self examination (BSE). The best time to perform a BSE is about a week after the menstrual cycle ends. For women that have irregular menstrual cycles its recommended to perform the BSE on the same day of every month. The BSE is a quick and simple process.

If you have a regular gynecologist or family physician they can give you information on how to perform the process properly or show you while performing it on you Also, the American Cancer Association has directions on their website on how to perform it at: web According to the American Cancer Association the process is as follows: Lie down with a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. Use the finger pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast. Press firmly enough to know how your breast feels. A firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast is normal. If you " re not sure how hard to press, talk to your doctor or nurse. Move around the breast in a circular, up and down line, or wedge pattern.

Be sure to do it the same way every time, check the entire breast area, and remember how your breast feels from month to month. Repeat the exam on your left breast, using the finger pads of the right hand. (Move the pillow to under your left shoulder. ) If you find any changes, see your doctor right away. Repeat the examination of both breasts while standing, with your one arm behind your head.

The upright position makes it easier to check the upper and outer part of the breasts (toward your armpit). This is where about half of breast cancers are found. You may want to do the standing part of the BSE while you are in the shower. Some breast changes can be felt more easily when your skin is wet and soapy.

(American Cancer Association: Breast Cancer Resource Center 17). Another risk reducing step of breast cancer, is a yearly routine mammogram for women ages 40 and over. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Its used to detect breast disease.

The x-ray is usually performed while the person is in a upright position while standing. Separately, each breast is pressed between two metal plates while the x-ray machine takes pictures of the breast. This exam is extremely important and has been added to all health insurance policies as a payable benefit by the United States Health Department. According to Breast Cancer Resource Center, the chance of developing breast cancer increases with age in women. About 77% of women with breast cancer are over age 50 at the time of diagnosis (3). For ages 40 and over a clinical breast examination should be performed by a medical professional each year.

For ages 20 through 39, this same exam should be performed every three years. The clinical exam is the same exam as the BSE. The only difference is the exam is performed by a person formally trained in the medical field and usually performs this process everyday. During this examination is when the medical professional would teach you how to correctly perform the BSE at home. The whole process of steps in reducing risks of breast cancer are simple and not at all time consuming. Maintaining a history of your family, performing routine self breast examinations, setting yearly routine mammograms for women 40 and over, and getting annual breast examinations by a medical professional are all thats needed.

Each step required can only help in educating oneself to understand breast cancer. For more education you can always contact you family medical professional. You can also visit the American Cancer Association at web ge = ENGLISH for facts, factors, and additional resources on breast cancer. American Cancer Association.

Breast Cancer Resource Center 2000. 20 Nov 2000. Types of Breast Cancer, Bethesda, M. D. : National Cancer Institute, 1999.

National Association of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO). Facts About Breast Cancer in the USA 5 Feb 2000. 20 Nov 2000.