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General Information about Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a certain type of medical condition whichis characterized by the development of malignant cells in the breast tissues.Every breast has up to 20 lobes which are further divided into smaller sectionswhich are referred to as lobules. Lobules are filled with numerous little bulbswhich are in charge of the production of milk. Those little bulbs, the lobulesand lobes are all connected by extremely thin tubes which are referred to asducts. Breasts also contain lymph vessels and blood vessels. Lymph vessels arein charge of carrying a fluid called lymph. There are lymph nodes throughoutthe entire human body and they in charge of filtering various substances andhelping in fighting various different types of diseases and infections. Themost common type of breast cancer commonly starts in the small ducts and it ismedicinally referred to as ductal carcinoma. Another type of breast cancer isreferred to as lobular carcinoma, and just as its name suggests, it alwaysbegins in the lobules or the lobes. There is another less common type of breastcancer which is commonly referred to as inflammatory breast cancer and it ischaracterized by swollen, red, warm breasts. Health history and age are amongthe most important risk factors when it comes to the development of breastcancer. Other common risk factors which may or may not be associated with thedevelopment of breast cancer include being white, drinking alcoholic beverages,taking hormones such as progesterone or estrogen, breast tissue that is denseon a mammogram, treatment with radiation therapy to the breast, a mother orsister with breast cancer, personal history of breast cancer or benign breastdisease, older age at first birth or never having given birth and menstruatingat an early age. There are certain types of signs and symptoms which mayindicate the presence of breast cancer. The most common ones include dimples in thebreast that resemble the skin of an orange, scaly, red or swollen skin on theareola, nipple or the breast, fluid from the nipple, a nipple turned inwardinto the breast, a dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast, a change inthe shape or size of the breast and a thickening or a lump in or near thebreast. In a case a person notices any of the aforementioned symptoms, he orshe should visit a doctor as soon as possible. There is no need for panic,because those symptoms may also be related to other medical conditions.

Statistical Data

There are more 2.5 million women in the United States whosurvived a cancer of the breast. With each year there are more than 200,000 newcases of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and there are also more than40,000 of them who die because of this dreadful medical condition. The medianage at diagnosis for cancer of the breast is 61 years of age, even thoughbreast cancer may affect persons from all different age groups. As far asethnic groups go, white women are the ones which are affected by breast cancerthe most but they are closely followed by African American, Asian, NativeAmerican and Hispanic women.

NCI's Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool

This tool is very efficient in estimating the risk of breastcancer in women. It is an online tool which is commonly used only by a healthcare provider and it can precisely estimate all risk for the period of nextfive years.

Tests and Diagnosis

There are certain tests which may be very efficient inexamining the breasts and defining or diagnosing breast cancer. The most commonof them all is physical exam and history. This test checks for general healthsigns and inspects if there are any lumps or something else which may beunusual. Another commonly used type of test is mammogram and it is actually anx-ray scan of the breasts. There is also the ultrasound exam which involveshigh energy sound waves that bounce of internal organs and tissues. The wavesthen create a picture which is referred to as sonogram. Magnetic resonanceimaging can also be used as a test for breast cancer. This type of testinvolves a magnet along with a computer and radio waves. Blood chemistrystudies may also be of great help in diagnosing breast cancer. Blood samplesare used for measuring of certain substances. Any unusual values indicatecertain medical problems. Biopsy is another type of test and it involvesremoved certain tissues and cells for further examination under a microscope.There are four different main types of biopsy and those include fine needleaspiration biopsy, core biopsy, incisional biopsy and excisional biopsy. If thecancer is diagnosed there are further tests than need to be done such asmultigene tests, MammaPrint, Oncotype DX and estrogen and progesterone receptortest.

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