Breast Cancer: Knowing The Causes and Risk Factors

The breast is one of the vital organs of the body located on the frontiers of the pectoral muscles that shields the rib cage of the body. It is made up of lobule that supplies the milk ducts with milk that finally settle at the nipple. Its chief responsibility is to breastfeed newly born babies aside other quintessential roles it plays in the entire body. It is now a common phenomenon to hear that the breasts of the majority of women and some handful of men have developed cancers.

It is estimated that 16% of all cancers in females is attributed to breast cancer as well as 18.2% of all cancer deaths globally. The precise cause is unknown, while some recent research studies are unclear about the causes, though many researchers highly predict that the cause may issue from the multifarious relationship between the genetic structure and the environment of individuals. However, the formation of cancer in the breast is scientifically attributed to the development of a malignant tumour in either the lobules or milk ducts of the breasts.The lobular carcinoma which is cancer that develops in the lobules is not very popular in comparison to the much popular to cancer that develops in the milk ducts of the breasts called ductal carcinoma.

What then causes the formation of the tumour in the lobule or milk duct regions of the breast? This usually happens when the tumour suppressor genes of one’s DNA, which is responsible for regulating and slowing down the pace of cell division in the body becomes weak and malfunctions. This usually incites the DNA genes of a person to mutate at relatively faster rates, creating the oncogenes that cause breast cells to develop abnormally leading to their spontaneous divisions. The clusters of cells that metastasize, thus, moves speedily to the lymph nodes, then gather together forming the lumps, masses or tumours that are likely to cause breast cancer.

This situation is more evident in females who have a strong family history of breast cancer. Two main genes called BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 that are malfunctioned tumour suppressor genes causes the familial breast cancer and it is apparent in one out of two hundred women. It is estimated that 5% to 10% of all breast cancers are as a result of familial breast cancer history. Studies have revealed that women who have very close relatives, such as mothers, sisters or daughters suffering from breast cancer are two or three times more likely to develop breast cancers. However, it must be reckoned that this family record, is not a panacea for developing the disease since studies have revealed that some women with this family record never developed cancers throughout their lives. It is equally intriguing to know of females who have developed cancers but never had any familial breast cancer history. Probably, this has increased the blurring situation of researchers who are in search of its exact causes.

Yet, females with a high risk of the disease as a result of DNA gene mutations inherited from a family genealogy of breast cancer victims can be helped to mitigate the likelihood of its formation. First, having a blood test carried out would unearth the kind of genetic mutation or BRCA in the family breast cancer history. Consulting the services of a genetic counsellor is also worthwhile because s/he can provide substantial information on the type of genetic testing to carry out as well as its associated benefits, limitations and risks. In addition, there is some time-tested medicine such as anastrozole and tamoxifen 21 which when taken for a period of five years have been proven to either reduce or prevent potential familial breast cancer.

Aside from the hereditary factors, there are many other instances that may slightly or highly increase the risk factors and the likelihood of breast cancer contraction. It is said that women over fifty years are more likely to develop the disease. Also, women with a personal record of breast cancer may possibly develop additional cancers in the affected breast or the other breast if self-precautionary measures are not taken.

Women with either oestrogen or progesterone hormone are more susceptible to develop breast cancers. This is owing to the fact that those hormones instruct the breast cells, as it were, to divide and multiply spontaneously making them cancerous in the breast region. As such, there is a recent alertness of some personal care products such as shampoos, deodorants, cosmetics, gels for shaving and other kinds that are produced with the addition of paraben chemicals which have oestrogen properties that can slightly increase the risk factor associated with the development of cancer. As a result, such products must be inspected for such ingredients in their makeup before they are purchased and used.

Another risk factor is related to the menstrual cyclical pattern of the woman. It is an evidence-proven fact that women who had their menstruation before the age of twelve, as well as those whose menstruation ceases known as menopause after the age of fifty-five as well as those who procreate after the age of thirty, are all likely to develop the disease. Obese women and women who take in diets with high fats are more susceptible to develop it. Studies have revealed that women who slash down the calories of fats in their diets to a range of 20% to 30% are more resilient to the formation of the disease.

In addition, high daily alcohol intake, smoking tobacco and short or intercepted periods of sleep increase the risk factor in the development of the disease. These practices reduce the melatonin level that monitors and regulates the creation and constant reproduction of cells, thus exposing the culprit to the likelihood of breast cancer.

Also, sterile women, as well as women who have had a post-menopausal therapy and have taken medications with oestrogen and progesterone, are also susceptible to develop the disease.

Knowing the risk factors, there is the need to maintain attitude or practices that are likely to reduce the risk factors that may potentially cause breast cancer. Heeding promptly to the advice of your health physician regarding one’s peculiar breast cancer case would immeasurably aid in preventing cancer. This would largely improve the health status as well as increase the life expectancy rate in especially women who contribute largely to the socio-economic development of the numerous nations around the globe.

When a Diagnosis of Advanced Prostate Cancer Was Avoidable

Imagine finding out that you have prostate cancer. That’s difficult because “cancer” is a word that brings with it fear of pain, fear of the treatment, and fear of death. But maybe, you say to yourself, maybe it is not that bad. Maybe we caught it early and with the right treatment I’ll survive it. 

But it gets worse. Imagine then finding out that is too late for that. The cancer has already spread to other areas of your body. A cure is therefore no longer a possibility. The best you can hope for is treatment that will slow down the progress of the disease. And later, after that treatment no longer works, treatment that will lessen the pain from the ever growing cancer. 

You probably next ask yourself, “Why me?” “Was it just bad luck?” And then you probably ask “Was there any way this could have been avoided?” “Was there something I could have done differently that would have prevented what now is an incurable outcome?”  

And then the news gets even worse. Imagine now finding out that your doctor, the individually you trusted to keep you healthy and to warn you of any possible health problems, had information that you were at risk of having prostate cancer. Imagine finding out that your doctor had this information a year or more before you were told you had cancer. And image finding out that if your doctor had given you this information when it was first available your cancer could have been detected while it was still contained to the prostate gland and could have been cured, could have been eliminated with proper treatment. 

Do you think this could not happen? Then consider the following cases:

Case 1:

For a three year period an internist did not tell his patient that blood tests revealed that the patient’s PSA level was not only elevated it was also rising. By the time the doctor finally told his patient about the test results the diagnosis was advanced prostate cancer. The only options available for treatment at that point were radiation therapy and hormone therapy – applied in an attempt to slow the cancer’s growth and spread. 

Case 2:

Not only did the doctor in this case not tell his patient his PSA level had been abnormal and rising, the doctor actually told him that they were normal. The patient discovered he had prostate cancer only after he consulted with a urologist at the urging of a family member. The diagnosis – prostate cancer that had spread to the seminal vesicles. 

Case 3:

A family doctor who performed a digital examination on his patient found that his prostate gland had a hardened area. The doctor did not tell his patient. The doctor did not refer the patient to a urologist for a consult. The doctor did not order a biopsy to determine whether the hardened area was cancerous. When the patient eventually discovered the cancer it had already metastasized to other parts of his body. 

Case 4:

For two and a half years a male patient’s doctor has information that this patient’s PSA levels are elevated. When the patient is finally diagnosed with prostate cancer he attempts surgery in the hopes that the cancer has not spread beyond the prostate and that surgery could eliminate the cancer. He also undergoes months of hormonal therapy. And then post-surgical PSA levels confirm that the surgery did not eliminate the cancer and that it is still present in his body. 

Cases like the above happen all too frequently. Whether the doctors do not review the results of the tests, whether they buy into the believe that there is no need to take action the PSA gets to a certain level or a nodule of a certain size is detected in the prostate, or whether they simply do not understand the guidelines and the standard of practice for the action that is appropriate when screening results are abnormal, these doctors cause a delay that results in the growth and spread of the cancer. The result: an avoidable death that becomes unavoidable.

There were law firms that represented the patients and families in each of the four cases discussed above. They reported being able to resolve the cases in amounts that ranged from $400,000 to $1,500,000.

Imagine being the patient who gets that news. You fight the cancer as hard and as long as you can. Imagine being his spouse or life-partner. Imagine being his son or daughter. Imagine being his father or mother. You help him fight the cancer and you offer him all the love and support you can. 

Perhaps you also decide to bring a claim for medical malpractice to help protect your family’s future. And you hope that if forced to confront the error and to incur a cost for it, maybe, just maybe, this doctor will change the way he or she treats other patients in the future so that this tragedy will not happen again.