So many women get this every year. They either beat it or they die form it. Cancer occurs when a cell goes haywire and starts multiplying uncontrollably. Modern cancer theory says a cancer is initiated when damage occurs to the cell’s genetic material, its DNA. Women with a family history of breast cancer
may have an increased risk of disease. Age-specific risk estimates are available to help counsel and design screening strategies for these women. Pathologically, breast cancer can be a multicentric and bilateral disease.
Bilateral disease is somewhat more common in patients with infiltrating lobular carcinoma. Patients who have breast cancer should have bilateral mammography at the time of diagnosis to rule out synchronous disease. Patients should continue to have regular breast physical examinations and mammography to detect either recurrence in the ipsilateral breast in those patients treated with breast-conserving surgery or a second primary cancer in the contra lateral breast. The first sign of breast cancer usually shows up on a woman’s mammogram before it can be felt or any other symptoms are present.
Risks for breast cancer include a family history, atypical hyperplasia, delaying pregnancy until after age 30 or never becoming pregnant, early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), current use or use in the last ten years of oral contraceptives, and daily consumption of alcohol. You are never too young to develop breast cancer! Breast Self-Exam should begin by the age of twenty. Men can also develop breast cancer although it is far less common than in women. Breast cancer is not common in younger women; that is women who have not yet reached the menopause. The vast majority of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50, so being diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age can be a very isolating experience. If there is cancer in your breast, finding it early vastly improves the chances that you can be treated and cured with few or no lasting side effects. Mammograms do have their limitations.
We know that children are less anxious if they know what’s happening, and that it can be less frightening for them to know what is going on even if they don’t fully understand. So, even though you may find it difficult, in most cases talking with your children about your breast cancer will help them and you.
The ‘best treatment’ may involve surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, either given alone or in any combination or order. When your treatment is finished, it’s understandable that your children want you ‘back to normal’ as soon as possible. They not only want reassurance that you’re better and won’t be ill again, they also want their own lives to return to normal. This may not always be straightforward for the whole family, particularly in the early weeks and months. Children may find this hard to grasp, especially if they feel they have been thoughtful and considerate during treatment. You may need to explain that getting better can take quite a long time, weeks or even months.
Surviving a disease like breast cancer is a life-changing experience. Many breast cancer survivors find fulfillment as volunteers for a variety of cancer-related causes, from fundraising to increasing awareness about the disease. Survivors put a face on breast cancer and serve a crucial role in the strides being made to lower breast cancer rates and breast cancer mortality around the world.