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Risk factors, staging, and treatment of breast cancer Research Paper

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Updated: May 15th, 2018


Breast cancer is a disease that originates from the breast tissue and the curative time of the patient is dependent on the level of spread and to what organs it has spread to. In the advent of new technology, computer models have been programmed and developed to help in the staging process and determine how long a person is going to live.

With best treatments available, most of the breast cancer patients can survive up to ten years with a 98% to 10% disease free body within this period. On the other hand, it has been discovered that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer especially with women with the total percentage of 10% of all the kinds of cancer.

This does not mean that it does not attack men but the probability is higher in women. If the diagnosis is fast and early, then the spread rate can be stemmed or even eliminated altogether.

This requires the use of trained oncologists with the right equipments to be able to remove it from the stem altogether or if a cure is impossible then the patient’s life can be significantly prolonged with the aid of a cancer drugs.

This is so because huge amounts of resources have been used in the research and the development of the breast cancer drugs that in effect help the body to combat the cancer by providing additional immune to boost the fighting power of the body.

Additionally in the process of research, new methods that are effective the fight against drugs have been experimented and proven to be effective in the fight against the breast cancer. However, breast cancer remains a killer disease and more research needs to be conducted to ensure that its prevalence level is reduced (Hart, 2007).


Age is very instrumental in determining the risk a woman has in getting breast cancer and the risk to get the breast cancer increases significantly as the woman ages. For instance it has been found that a woman living up to the age of 90 years has a risk factor of up to 14% to contact the cancer compared to a middle aged woman. The manner in which cancer attacks the two age’s differences is quite different.

In older women, the cancer spreads slowly and is not as severe but in younger woman it attacks more vigorously and is difficult to control. In addition, it has also been out that in most cases of breast cancer in older people, a higher depression rate among the patients was noted, and this contributes to the faster death as compared to the younger people.

This is because young people have the necessary hope to fight on due to the life before them but the older people have lost hope in life and when they are diagnosed most tends to seclude themselves or live in denial.

This means that in the research for breast cancer apart from trying to develop cures and ways to eliminate the cancer, lots of research should also be done on the psychological support programs to help stem this tide (Hart, 2007).


Men have a lower risk of getting breast cancer compared to women but the risk is appearing to be on the increase in men too. This has been noted especially in the men with prostate cancer and in the case a man is affected the prognosis even in the first stage is very aggressive and worse than in women.

The treatment for the cancer in men is the same as the treatment for an older woman and is a combination of surgery radiation and chemotherapy.


Change or mutations of genes in our bodies can also increase the probability of having cancerous cells in the breasts. This is supported by studies that explicitly show that up to 10% of all breast cancers are hereditary.

This is supported by the fact that women with both hereditary genes of breast cancer gene 1 and breast cancer gene2 have a higher risk of developing breast cancer with women having breast cancer gene 1 accounting for over 5% of all the cancers that occur.

Human epidermal growth receptor 2(HER2) is another gene that is found on the surface on the human skin and can increase the chance or probability of acquiring breast cancer. This is caused by the over production of the HER2 cells when the gene is altered.

If this happens, then aggressive tumor cells develop which account to about 25-30% of all the cancer patients. If the p53 gene undergoes mutation then the risk is even more. This is confirmed by the studies that have shown that women with this mutated gene have a poorer breast cancer outcome than those that do not posses this gene (Ellmann, 2009).

Family history

The family history deeply increases the risk of having breast cancer especially if a close member had the cancer. To the victims whose mother or father had the cancer then the risk doubles. The following people have a risk of having the cancer depending on the background and according to the genetics. These conditions can increase breast cancer

  • Having relatives with breast cancer
  • Having relatives with two different kinds of cancer
  • Having a male relative with case or cases of breast cancer
  • .If the same family is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage then the odds are even more
  • A family history that includes history of diseases such as hereditary breast cancer and diseases such as Li-Fraumeni or even Cowdens Syndromes


It has been shown that there are higher rates and incidence of the breast cancer in areas that have high fat yield content in their diet like in the USA compared with the low fat yield places like Japan. However, the link between the two is not straight and is dependent on the type of fats that a woman has.

Monounsaturated fats are linked to low breast cancer risk compared with polyunsaturated fats that have a slightly higher prevalence. A study was conducted in the USA that showed that despite the link between the diet and the cancer, the reduction of fats in the diet does not automatically mean or lead to a reduction in the risk of having the breast cancer.

However, it was found out that there is a 9% reduction rate in the postmenopausal women if they followed a strict low fat diet. In the end, it was decided that the cutting of fats in the diet can cause a reduced rate of risk in some women but they did not have the necessary solid evidence to make conclusions.

Hormone replacement therapy

Recent studies have indicated the use of this kind of therapy can add to the risk of breast cancer. In the year 2002 a study was carried out by the group Women heath initiative and it was found out that in they were eight cases of invasive breast cancer in about 10000 women. This represented an increase of about 26% compared to those who did not have the hormone replacement therapy.

On the same note, it was found out that between the years 2002 and 2003 there was an increase in the prevalence rate of the breast cancer. Although the tests and the results are not conclusive or even solid, this little link has alarmed experts who believe that women seeking hormone replacement therapy should consult an expert on the matter to ensure that they are well informed (Foster, 2008).


It had not been discovered that tobacco smoking could cause an increase of breast cancer until the beginning of the mid 1990’s when a number of studies were conducted on the same topic. The study had disturbing results that predicted a higher risk rate for both active and passive smokers. Based on the epidemiological studies and the mammary carcinogens, the rate had reached 70% by 2005.

In the year 2006, another study was done which pegged the risk rate at a higher rate due to the risk of non-smokers who are passive smokers. This is especially rife in young women who can suffer from an increased risk rate of up to 70% if they are in their primary pre-menopausal stage because at this stage, the breast tissue is sensitive to the carcinogens; they are still young, and not fully developed

Staging of breast cancer

This process is used to determine the level in which the cancer has attacked the body making a diagnosis. Knowing the stage of the cancer is very important since the doctor gets to know the best way on which to offer treatment and how to determine the prognosis of the cancer (Foster, 2008). The staging is done in stages that are:

  1. Stage 0: This is called the pre-cancerous state because the cancer cells are located in the milk duct and have not yet spread to the breast tissue or have not invaded the nodes or distant sites. Such cancers like lobular carcinoma can be classified as stage 0 cancer.
  2. Stage 1: The cancer has started spreading to the other parts of the breast and the tumor is less than 2cm long however the cancer cells have not spread to the lymph nodes or even the distant cells.
  3. Stage II: This stage is divided into two categories namely stageIIA and stageIIB. In stage II, the tumor will be located and restricted to the breast with no further spreading. Finally, the tumor can be more than 2cm but less than 5cm and has not yet spread to the auxiliary nodes or the distant sites.
  4. StageIIB can involve cancer cells that have a tumor larger the 2cm but being less than 5cm. At this stage, the cancer cells will have spread to auxiliary nodes but the distant cells will be safe. In addition, during the later stages of the stage, the tumor is more than 5cm long but the spread to the chest walls will not have started. This stage also has the cells localized and have not spread to the distant sites
  5. Stage III has three sub categories that are categorized according to the level of spreading the cancer has undergone. In stageIIIA, the tumor is less than 5cm in diameter and the cells have spread to 4-9 auxiliary nodes but not to the distant sites. The tumor can be larger than 5cm in diameter and the cells having spread to the mammary nodes but the distant sites will still be healthy. In stageIIIB,the tumor can take up any size and the spread will have encroached the chest walls. The spreading of the cancer can be to the auxiliary nodes in the breast themselves or the lymph nodes that are near the breastbones. Finally in stageIIIC the tumor can be of any size and the cancer cells having spread to 10 0r more of the auxiliary cells or even to 1 or more of the regional lymph nodes or even to the internal mammary glands
  6. StageIV: At this stage, the tumor can take up any size depending on the attack and the cancerous cells might have spread to the lymph nodes that are nearby. In most cases, the cells will have spread to the distant cells (Foster, 2008).

Treatment of cancer

Treatment of breast cancer is dependent on the stage the cancer is and the whether the cells are sensitive to hormones. Personal preferences also come into effect with many people preferring one method of treatment to another because of their own reasons. Overall, these methods are all-effective and are all instrumental in ensuring that all the cells are ejected from the body.

Treatment methods

The most common method is surgery. In surgery, there are many forms all depending on the level of spread and the staging. A lumpectomy is an effective way ot breast cancer treatment because the removes the entire tumor plus some surrounding cell tissues that are healthy. This method is however reserved for the smaller tumors. The entire breast can also be removed (mastectomy).In this method the doctor usually removes all the breast tissue and all the parts that border or are integral with the breast.

The surgery can also be performed by removing one lymph node, this is because the cancer will have spread to that lymph alone and if removed the chance of finding cancer in other cells is very low to the point that the surgeon leaves all the other parts intact. On the other hand, several lymph nodes can also be removed depending on the level of spread (Ellmann, 2009).

Radiation therapy

“This kind of therapy involves the use of high-powered beams of energy to kill the cancer cell” (Ellmann, 2009, p. 49). It is done using a big machine that emits the rays to ensure that all the cancerous cells are killed. In most cases, some doctors will recommend this therapy instead of mastectomy to be able to save the entire breast tissue.


“This process involves the use of drugs to destroy the cancer cells” (Connolly, 2008, p. 52). Some doctors can recommend chemotherapy after surgery to avoid the cells forming again and it can be used before surgery to allow the tumor to shrink to a level where it can be safely removed. It is used in women whose breast cancer has spread to the other organs present in the body

Hormone therapy

“This is another of treatment to treat breast cancers especially is the cells are sensitive to hormones” (Backus, 2005, p. 379). It can be used after a surgery to make sure that the cancer does not rejuvenate or it can be used to reduce the size of the tumor before any surgery can be done.

The drugs also prevent the hormones from attaching themselves to the cancer cells or they help to eliminate the production of estrogen especially in menopausal women . One disadvantage of these drugs is that they are only used for postmenopausal women.

Herceptin breast cancer metastatic treatment

Due to the increased level of research and dedication, new methods have been developed to curb the spread of breast cancer. One of this is by the use of herceptin breast cancer metastatic treatment.

This kind of therapy is injected in the body by the use of a needle and can be used together with the other types of breast cancer drugs .It is new and still not in use especially in the developing world but its use is catching on.


Backus, M. (2005). Is there a role for iodine in breast. The Breast, 10 (5), 379–382.

Connolly, T. (2008). Robbins Basic Pathology. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Ellmann, R. (2009). Breast carcinoma in men: a population-based study. Cancer, 101 (1), 51–58.

Foster, J. (2008). Metalloestrogens: an emerging class of inorganic xenoestrogens with potential to add to the oestrogenic burden of the human breast. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 26 (3), 191–198.

Hart, C. (2007). Breast Cancer. London: Faber & Faber.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'Risk factors, staging, and treatment of breast cancer'. 15 May.

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