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Breast Cancer Symptoms and Causes Essay

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Updated: Nov 24th, 2019


Breast cancer affects mostly women, which results from the breast tissue found in the inner coating of the milk ducts or the lobules, which are charged with the task of supplying milk. A number of breast cancer varieties exist, including ductile carcinomas, which originate from the ducts and the lobular carcinomas, which originate from the lobules.

Studies show that breast cancer is only common in human beings and a few other mammals. It should be noted that breast cancer occur in men as well meaning that it is not a disease that strictly affects women. Breast cancer is curable if it is detected at an early stage, even though the screening process has always been the matter of controversy in the world of science. Screening has some advantages, as well as numerous side effects. This paper aims at evaluating the costs of screening (Sariego, 2010).

The treatment offered to patients suffering from cancer is influenced by the characteristic of the cancer type. Some of the curative measures available include surgery, the use of medicine, exposure to radiation and immunotherapy. This article looks at the symptoms and the causes or the factors that predisposes people to breast cancer briefly before proceeding to evaluate the effectiveness of the diagnosis techniques.

Signs and Symptoms

Breast cancer is one of the killer diseases in the modern society all over the world. One of the major symptoms is the development of a lump, which is usually very different from other breast tissues. Studies show that all patients suffering from breast cancer felt the lump before they were diagnosed of the diseases.

The mammogram is the first indication of breast cancer, even though other indications such as the presence of the lymph nodes in the armpits are also the early indications of breast cancer. Other symptoms of breast cancer include the thickening of breast tissues whereby it might lead to one breast becoming larger. Moreover, a nipple may change its position to an extent of becoming inverted.

In some patients, rushes in the nipple indicate the symptoms of the disease and in some instances there might be a discharge from the nipple (Lacroix, 2006). Even though pain around the breast or the armpit is not a reliable symptom, it is also an indication that might warrant diagnosis. It might be difficult to diagnose certain types of breast cancer such as inflammatory breast cancer. The symptoms of this type of cancer might resemble those of a simple inflammation such as itching and the swelling of the breast.

Causes or Risk Factors of Breast Cancer

The predisposing factors of breast cancer include the sex of an individual and the age. For women, the major predisposing factors are childbearing meaning that the more an individual have children, the high the risks of contacting breast cancer. This factor is closely related to breast feeding.

Other risk factors include high hormone secretion, the diet of an individual, and other diseases such as obesity. Under the lifestyle of an individual, it is established that the intake of tobacco is the main predisposing factor to breast cancer. Individuals known to smoke have always been diagnosed with the disease.

The earlier an individual starts smoking, the higher the chances of contracting the disease. In fact, the case is serious to those individuals who use tobacco for long and lack physical exercise. In 1980, s study established that induced abortion is one of the risk factors of breast cancer because those who procure an abortion were diagnosed with breast cancer. However, recent studies have confirmed that breast cancer is not associated with miscarriages or induced abortions.

A direct relationship between breast cancer and the diet of an individual exist, especially when it comes to fat intake because people who consume too much fat are likely to suffer from cancer in the future. Some of the foods and drinks are not also healthy, such as alcohol because they increase the risk of contracting breast cancer.

Studies have proved that a number of chemicals could actually cause breast cancer in women, especially breast feeding women. Some these chemicals include those used as pesticides and polychlorinated chemicals. Some people contract breast cancer owing to their genetic susceptibility to some environmental factors.

However, studies show that genetics as a risk factor causes less than ten percent breast cancers in all patients. This study shows that the chances of inheriting cancer from the parent are very low, even though there is some possibility (Buchholz, 2009). Those with certain genes, particularly BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are in higher risk of contracting breast cancer.

As far as genetics is concerned, the above genes cause up to 90% of all genetically related cancer. There was a breakthrough in 2012 as regards to the risks that genetics pose because one of the studies proved that four types of genetically related breast cancers exist. Some medical conditions predispose people to breast cancer. Some of these conditions include atypical hyperplasia, and lobular carcinoma in situ.

Diagnosis and Screening: Mammography

Breast cancer behaves in the same way as other forms of cancer because it forms as result of the interaction of the environment with defective gene. It entails a process whereby ordinary cells divide so many times before stopping at some point.

The divide cells stick to other cells before settling at the tissues. Cancer is said to have occurred when mutations destroy the ability of cells to divide. Cells would instead attach themselves to other cells. Breast cancer is diagnosed through the process of microscopic therapy, which takes place with the help of the biopsy.

Some types of breast cancer are complex meaning that they require specialized machines and technologies to diagnose. The most important process is to conduct the screening of the cells. Additional testing is performed to ascertain whether the detected lump is cancer since not all lumps are cancerous. The findings of noninvasive investigation and mammography are sufficient tests to prove that an individual is suffering from cancer.

Mammography is an important process that detects not only cancerous cells, but also other lesions. It entails the utilization of low energy X-rays, which are usually less than 30kVp, in scanning the breast to establish whether it is infected with cancer. It should be understood that the technique is used both as diagnostic technique and a screening tool. Mammography is undertaken specifically to detect cancer at its early onset.

The main aim of the process is to detect micro-calcifications. The process uses some doses of ionizing radiation, just like other X-rays, to provide images that are later evaluated in diagnosing the disease. The energy used should be kept low since breasts do not have strong bones or muscles, as is the case with bones. Ultrasound is usually recommended to evaluate the masses of the cells in order to detect the disease (Reynolds, 2012).

It is suggested that women go through the process after every two years, especially after they attain age fifty. Mammography as a diagnostic tool and a screening technique has both advantages and disadvantages. However, it should be noted that the technique is so effective in diagnosing and screening cancer patients.

Those in support of the use of mammography as screening tool argue that many people should turn up for screening since the technique has helped in lowering the number of cancer deaths since 1990. Studied in Sweden and Netherlands pointed out that women could be saved from the killer diseases owing to the presence of the mammography technology (Destounis, & DiNitto, 2004).

The studies proved that 1.8 women could be saved from the dangers of the disease if regular diagnosis and screening is encouraged. Critics have been quick to mention that many women suffer psychologically due to wrong diagnosis. Others are even forced to go through the strenuous process of screening yet they do not suffer from the disease.

One of the recent studies suggested that mammography technology does not reduce deaths in any way but instead it causes cancer panic and the desire to undergo medical checkup frequently. Some women have gone through surgical invention yet they do not suffer from cancer. It is even noted with concern that frequent checks and subsequent screening may bring about more harms as compared to benefits. Overall, the use of mammography is beneficial to women because it helps them determine their cancer status.


Buchholz, T. (2009). Radiation therapy for early-stage breast cancer after breast-conserving surgery. English Journal of Medicine, 360(1), 63–70.

Destounis, S., & DiNitto, P. (2004). Can computer-aided detection with double reading of screening mammograms help decrease the false-negative rate? Radiology, 232(2), 578–584.

Lacroix, M. (2006). Significance, detection and markers of disseminated breast cancer cells. Endocrine-related Cancer, 13(4): 1033–1067.

Reynolds, H. (2012). The Big Squeeze: A Social and Political History of the Controversial Mammogram (ILR Press/Cornell University Press.

Sariego, J. (2010). Breast cancer in the young patient. The American surgeon, 76(12), 1397–1401.

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