Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, it accounts for one of every three diagnoses in the United States. Breast cancers are malignancies, life threatening tumors that develops in one or both breasts. A female breast consists of fatty and fibrous connective tissues. The interior of the breast is divided into about twenty different sections called lobes. Each of the lobes is further divided in to lobules, which are structures that contain small milk-producing glands. These glands place the milk into tiny ducts.

These ducts take the milk through out the breast and store in a chamber located below the nipple. Breast cancer can either be invasive (spreading) or noninvasive (non-spreading). An invasive cancer penetrates the wall of a duct. This type of cancer is the most common, constituting about seventy percent of all cases. Infiltrating locular cancer that spreads through a wall of a lobule accounts for about eight percent of all breast cancer. This type is likely to appear in both of the breast, often in seven separate locations.

The cause of breast cancer is unknown but researchers are suggesting that estrogen, a hormone produced by the ovaries, may be involved. Studied suggest that the longer a women is exposed to the hormone (i. e. If she starts to menstruate before the age of twelve or if she went through menopause after the age of fifty-five and / or had children after the age of thirty) are at a greater risk.

Recently two breast cancer susceptibility genes have been identified. The first one is BRCA 1 (a flaw in this gene is common to those who have breast cancer) and the second is BRCA 2 (a defect in this gene is associated with breast cancer alone). People who have a mutated BRCA 1 gene have an eighty-six percent risk of developing breast cancer by the age of seventy. Women are one hundred times more likely to get breast cancer than men. More than eighty percent of breast cancer occur in women over the age of fifty.

At the age of forty her odds are one in two hundred and seventeen (217), and in women younger than thirty they account for only one and a half percent of all breast cancer cases. About five percent of all breast cancers are inherited. Those with a family history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (i. e. mother, sister, and daughter) are two to three times the risk of the general population. Women who take hormone replacement therapy for more than five years may also have an increased risk.

This is because the therapy causes the density of the breast tissue to increase and mammograms may miss some sign of the cancer. Chemicals are also suspected to cause breast cancer. Xeno estrogens are chemicals with estrogen-like effects, they are found in pesticides and other common industrial products. Other estrogen-like chemicals that have a stronger association with breast cancer include dieldrin and beta-. Although these chemicals are very weak estrogens, one study showed that exposure to single weak-estrogen compounds isn't a big risk but a combination of two or more chemicals result in extremely high estrogenic chemicals. Many women, who took (DES) to prevent miscarriages, increased the risk for break cancer in their children.

There are lost of ways to prevent cancer or try to prevent it. One of these is reducing your fat intake. One study shows that the result of this is that the level of estradiol, the potent form of estrogen decreases. Another way to fight breast cancer is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables contain chemicals that may be cancer fighters. A concentrated form of limonene, a substance found in citrus skins, has been found to shrink breast cancer in animals.

Some studies have shown that if you breast-fed for more than four months it lowers your risk of the cancer. In a recent study women who have underwent breast reduction have a low risk of getting breast cancer by forty percent. There are symptoms that you can look for to help detect breast cancer. When looking for some of these symptoms you should check your breast for a change of size or shape, dimpling on the skin, or a lump. You should check your nipple for a lump if the nipple is inverted. Also check if there is a blood stained discharge or a rash on the nipple.

Swelling in the armpit is also a symptom. Breast cancer has four major stages. Stage 0 breast cancer includes duct al or locular carcinoma or Paget's disease with no evidence of a tumor. Stage 1 breast cancer includes tumors up to two centimeters but no larger than that.

There is no spread of the cancer at this stage. Stage 2 A breast cancer includes a tumor no larger than two centimeters, which has spread to lymph nodes in the armpit on the same side of the involved breast. Stage 2 B breast cancer includes a tumor from two to five centimeters at its largest dimension, spread to the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side of the involved breast. Stage 3 A breast cancer includes five grouping of tumors measuring two to five centimeters and with various stages of spreading to the lymph nodes on the same side of the affected breasts. There may be no evidence of a primary tumor but cancer is detected in lymph nodes under an arm that are fixed to a structure or to each other. Stage 3 B breast cancer includes tumors of any size that have extended directly to the chest wall or skin and any lymph node involvement.

Stage 4 breast cancer includes any size tumor any lymph node involvement and spreading to distant sites, including the lymph nodes along the collar bone. If you think that you have a suspicious lump in your breast or if you just want to check your breasts there are tests for you to do so. One of these tests is to get a mammogram. This is a x-ray technique to examine the breast to detect any cancer. Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that uses magnetism to build up cross-sectional pictures of your body. During the test you are asked to lie very still on a couch inside a long chamber for up to an hour.

Ultrasounds are also used to test for cancer. A special gel is spread onto the breasts and a small device, which emits sound waves, is passed over the area. The echo's are converted into a picture of the breast tissue by a computer. A new type of ultrasound, high-definition imaging, shows a clear image of lumps larger than one centimeter. Needle aspiration is a quick procedure, in which the doctor uses a fine needle and syringe to take a sample of the cells from the breast lump.

Stereotactic fine needle biopsy uses a technique that combines x-ray and computer technology to precisely locate and retrieve a tissue sample which is needed for biopsy. Estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor test is performed on excised tissue to determine whether the tumor cells respond to the hormones. This information's important in planning treatment. Along with all these tests there are skin biopsies, chest x-rays, bone scans and blood tests, to test for cancer too. With your diagnosis of breast cancer your treatment options include - radiation, drug therapy and surgery. Radiation therapy use x-rays to kill cancer cells or to shrink the size of a tumor in the breast or surrounding tissue.

Radiation is used in breast conserving treatments for women with early stage cancers and who have chosen lumpectomy. In premenopausal women those that have mastectomies, combining radiation therapy with chemotherapy after surgery appears to reduce relapse and improve survival rates. Radiation is also used to treat cancers that have spread or tumors that are considered inoperable because of location. Drug therapy works systemically.

It kills cancer cells throughout the body rather than just in the breast. Drug therapy is used in every stage of breast cancer, generally to relieve symptoms. Chemotherapy and hormone treatment is used to reduce the risk of secondary growth elsewhere in the body. Surgery forms a part of nearly every patient's treatment for breast cancer.

The initial surgical intervention is a lumpectomy, the removal of the tumor itself. Lumpectomy is used for smaller cancers. It serves as a biopsy, a diagnostic tool and a primary treatment; the removal of the tumor. Mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast and armpit lymph nodes with the underlying chest wall muscle being maintained. Mastectomy is now usually recommended only if one of the following conditions are present: (1) tumors exist in more than one place; (2) the cancer is located under the nipple; (3) radiation therapy is not a possibility or; (4) the removed lymph is large and shows cancer cells on its margins. Until recently mastectomy, the removal of the breast was the standard treatment for nearly all breast cancers, now most patients choose lumpectomy.

If you have undergone a mastectomy and lost part of or your entire breast there is the option of having breast reconstruction performed. This involves the creation of a natural looking artificial breast through plastic surgery. It is generally performed six months to a year after surgery and at least four weeks after the end of any radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Silicone implants are usually used in breast reconstruction. Tissue can be taken elsewhere in the body and sometimes used in reconstruction.

If the nipple was removed it can be rebuilt from other body tissue and color is applied using tattoo techniques. Recurrence is always a serious event. Recurrence usually happens in two or three cases out of ten. There are three ways in which cancer can recur in your breast. The most common recurrence is in the conserved breast in the region of the original cancer.

If this type of cancer hasn't spread then it can be treated with a mastectomy. The other kind of recurrence involves the lymph nodes. If it is not considered to be a metastasis (spread to other areas) it can be treated with further surgery or radiation. A recurrence in the scar or chest wall after a mastectomy is more serious. Because all your breast tissue has been removed, it is impossible for cancer to be residual, and therefore it must have traveled from the lymphatic system or blood stream. In conclusion it is very important that women do daily / monthly breast examinations and if by your age (40 or older) or if the woman has specific risk factors then a mammogram should be done on a yearly or biannual basis.

With all the advancement of medicine today, hopefully a cure for breast cancer will be in the near future.