Breast Cancer

by: Courtney BAnning

Background Info

Breast Cancer is simply when tumors form in the breasts.  Cell production is normal and constant but if cells reproduce too rapidly and there are excess cells these excess cells can lump together and form a tumor.  When this excess production of cells and a formation of a tumor begins in the breast, this is what we know as Breast Cancer.

This cancer is also known as a systematic disease meaning there is a large risk of it spreading.  Breast Cancer commonly can or will spread to the lungs, bones, brain, and liver.  This means Breast Cancer can effect the Skeletal system, the Lymphatic system, the Circulatory and/or the Respiratory system.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.  In 2010 about 1.5 million women where diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  The National Cancer Institute's research estimates the 39,620 people died of Breast Cancer in 2013.

Breast Cancer has been around for centuries; the disease appears in almost every period of recorded history.  Unlike today, having the disease was a source of embarrassment and so it was seldom mentioned of spoke of; because of a lack of knowledge and medicine it was rarely treated.    

Causes/Risk Factors

Science is still not sure what causes Breast Cancer exactly.  Research has shown us specific risk factors but there are still cases of people with no risk factors developing Breast Cancer as well as people with several risk factors never developing the disease.  However, it is likely that Breast Cancer is caused by a combination of one's environmental influence and one's genetic makeup.  There are several risk factors making one more likely to develop Breast Cancer.  Gender and age are the most common risk factors; 1 in 8 women will develop the disease in their lifetime (most likely at a post menopausal age) whereas 1 in 1000 men will develop it in their lifetime.  Historical risk factors are include: having had Breast Cancer in the past, having a family history of Breast Cancer, and inherited genes that can increase one's risk.  There are still several other risk factors that can increase one's chances of developing Breast Cancer.    


Common symptoms of Breast cancer include:

Breast lump(s)

Change in size

Change in shape

Bloody discharge from nipple

Changes in skin over the breast

Peeling, scaling, or flaking of the nipple or skin of the breast

Inverted nipple


There are several different treatment options ranging from surgery to medication.  Options for surgery include: removal of tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue, removing an entire breast, removal of some lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread, removing additional lymph nodes, and/or removing both breasts.  Another option is radiation which is the use of high-powered beams of energy to try and kill cancer cells.  Chemotherapy is another treatment options in which drugs are used to try and kill cancer cells.  There is also the option of hormone therapy in addition to surgery or other treatments.  Drugs are also available to treat specific abnormalities in cancerous cells.


Making changes to your daily life can greatly reduce your risk of developing Breast Cancer or dying from it if you are diagnosed with it.  First, talk to your doctor and about Breast Cancer screening and testing.  A very important prevention strategy is starting self breast exams so that you may become familiar with your breast so as to be able to detect any changes.  Minor changes to lifestyle include: drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising a majority of the week, limit one's intake of post menopausal hormone therapy, and maintaining a healthy weight.  


In the past few years Breast Cancer awareness has boomed; it is no longer considered a topic of embarrassment to only be spoken of in private.  As a result of the this recent boom there are fundraisers happening year round to raise money for research and to raise awareness.  In 2012 the National Cancer Institute spend $602.7 million dollars towards research of Breast Cancer.  The Susan G. Komen Foundation is the largest non-government funder of Breast Cancer research.  

A Startling Fact and A hopeful fact

Every 2 minutes someone is diagnosed with Breast Cancer and every 13 minutes a woman dies from Breast Cancer in the U.S.

In the U.S. there are 2.9 million


"Breast Cancer Statistics Worldwide." Worldwide Breast Cancer. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

"Breast Cancer." Symptoms. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

"Cancer Research Funding - National Cancer Institute." Cancer Research Funding - National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.

"Funding Opportunities." Susan G. Komen®. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

"Learning about Breast Cancer: Library." Learning About Breast Cancer. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

"What Body Systems Are Affected by Breast Cancer." HealthTap. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2014.

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