Friday, October 2, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - pay attention to breast health

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) (also referred to locally as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM)) is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the abnormality of the cells found in the breasts. A majority of cases of breast cancer are diagnosed through a mammogram where there are lumps or sudden abnormalities occurring in the breast tissues. Breast cancer is one of the worst types of cancer you could get. In the US alone it is the second biggest killer of women. It is therefore essential that you do regular checks to ensure that if you ever do get it you will be able sort it out before it gets out of control.

Breast Cancer Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of breast cancer usually show themselves in the breast tissue itself, the skin or the nipple. Commons signs are:
A lump
An area on the breast that feels thicker or different than the rest of the breast, even if it doesn't feel like a lump
A change in the shape of the breast
A change in the breast's size
Dimpling or puckering of the skin of the breast
Red skin with no other explanation
Pitted skin
Bloody nipple discharge
Crusting or flaking of the skin of the nipple
A nipple that's inverted (pointing inward) or changed in appearance, such as pointing up, down or the side when it was not before
A change in the shape of a nipple
Unexplained breast tenderness or pain

One of the more important things to consider when you're looking at symptoms of breast cancer is to know what your breast looks and feels like normally so it's easy to compare. Breasts are not smooth globes of tissue. There are bumps, lumps and rope-like structures within the breast, especially in the top and the part of your breast closest to your armpit. The insides and bottoms of the breast are mostly fat, so these areas will be less lumpy and softer. And during hormonal changes like just before or during your period, there may be an even bigger difference in the way these different tissues feel beneath your hands and fingers.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Surgery is often the first step in breast cancer treatment. Removal of the lump and the cancerous tissue is imperative in most cases to keep the cancer from spreading any further. Depending on the stage (which is judged by the size and the spread of the disease) a woman with breast cancer may have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy.
A mastectomy is removal of the entire breast, where a lumpectomy saves the majority of breast tissue but removes only the lump itself and the very nearby affected breast tissue. A doctor will recommend which is the safest course of action for each type of cancer. A Stage I cancer, which has not spread beyond the lump maybe be treated with a lumpectomy and radiation, for instance, where a wider spread cancer like Stage IIB or III involves much more breast and surrounding tissues and may require a complete mastectomy for the best prognosis. During surgery, the surrounding lymph nodes may be removed as well, if the cancer could have spread to these areas. In some cases, the breast can be reconstructed during the cancer surgery or at a later time.

Chemotherapy is not always a part of breast cancer treatment. If the cancer was caught very early before it had spread into the tissues of the surrounding area or the lymph nodes, chemo may not be recommended. When it is, it's the introduction of medication given through an IV that kills system-wide cancer cells that may have spread beyond the lump or tumor that was removed. Cancer cells divide rapidly, and the substance in the chemo therapy attacks those cells. There are side effects with chemotherapy, but there are medications that can help make these much milder than they used to be.

Radiation breast cancer treatment is usually the third stage, after surgery and chemo. This targets a specific area of the body, such as the breast, to destroy any remaining cancer cells. In some cases, surgery and radiation are given without chemotherapy, depending on how small and localized the cancer was.
The use of radiation can reduce the chances of breast cancer coming back by about 70%, and the side effects are local to the area treated, and often tolerated much better than chemo side effects.

Natural treatment
Natural treatment for breast diseases can also be used to reduce the side effects of medications. Herbal remedies are your best ally in strengthening your immune system and over all health condition against the adverse effects of chemotherapy sessions.
Essiac is an herb that has been researched for its potential in treating cancer cells. Many experts believe that with ample studies, they will be able to find out how Essiac can help women suffering from breast cancer.
Fish Oil has also been given careful consideration. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are essential in the whole systemic functioning of our body. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the risks of inflammations caused by cancer.

So now taking all things into consideration, breast - cancer is quite a deadly disease. One must get himself/ herself checked for it regularly for breast cancer as it's better to be safe than sorry!

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