Breast Cancer Essay

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Cancer is one of the diseases that have obligated the healthcare sector to focus on extensive research. The increasing mortality and morbidity rates associated with different types of cancer have had a major impact on both the developing and developed worlds. Breast cancer is one of the most predominant types of cancer affecting a large percentage of women (Taghian, 2009). Statistics indicate that breast cancer may also affect men. There has been an emphasis on the need for regular screening with the core objective of determining a person’s susceptibility to developing breast cancer. Women above 40 years need regular checkups and mammograms depending on the advice of the physician. There have been efforts to create undifferentiated consciousness regarding the primary causes and preventive strategies for breast cancer. This paper will delve into a critical analysis of the epidemiology, clinical presentation, complications, and diagnosis of breast cancer.

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Definition

The uncontrollable growth of cells in the breast tissue triggers the development of breast cancer. Cancer cells can multiply indefinitely and contribute to the development of tumors. In the breast tissue, the tumor represents a solid mass of cells. Since women have a significant breast tissue, they are likely to develop breast cancer. A malignant tumor is discernible in the breast tissue when an individual has breast cancer (Saunders & Jassal, 2009). The cancer cells can undergo metastasis and spread to other body tissues and organs. Recent research has established that breast cancer can begin at any part of the breast tissue. The common characteristic of breast cancer is the presence of a lump in the breast. However, some individuals do not develop such a lump even when they have breast cancer.

Epidemiology

Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer among women. In the United States, more than 182,000 women register a positive diagnosis of breast cancer each year. Breast cancer accounts for about 26% of all cancers affecting women each year (Taghian, 2009). The mortality rates associated with breast cancer have heightened significantly to about 40,000 women annually in the United States. Currently, American women register a 3.4% risk of developing and succumbing to breast cancer. Breast cancer is more prevalent among certain populations than others. White women register the highest risk of developing breast cancer. However, there is a significant increase in prevalence rates among black women.

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Clinical Presentation

In the early stages, breast cancer does not exhibit symptoms. Particularly, the tumor may be present, but occur as a painless mass of cells. Only a small percentage of women with a malignant tumor in the breast tissue report pain or discomfort (Saunders & Jassal, 2009). For this reason, there is a need to assess the development of a lump in the breast through physical examination or a regular mammogram.

Complications

In the initial stages, breast cancer may not present any complications. However, as the disease advances, complications may occur. Some of the most common breast cancer complications include cancer-related pain, bone complications, and the failure of other organs (Taghian, 2009). Particularly, the spreading of cancer to different organs determines the complications that are likely to occur. If the cancer cells move to the bones, then the individual is likely to present bone pain, spinal compression, or other related complications. The treatment of cancer also presents critical complications such as lymphedema, which occurs after the removal of lymph nodes.

Diagnosis

For successful diagnosis of breast cancer, the physician conducts a physical breast exam that seeks to identify the presence of any lumps in the breast. A mammogram utilizes x-rays to detect any abnormality in the breast tissue. A breast ultrasound produces a detailed image of the inner structures of the breast tissue (Saunders & Jassal, 2009). Other physicians carry out a biopsy to analyze whether the tumor is cancerous. A breast magnetic resonance imaging also helps in the detection of breast cancer. The physician must also utilize different procedures to characterize the stage of breast cancer.

Conclusion

The increasing prevalence of breast cancer has motivated many scholars to focus on developing approaches to prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment. The high mortality rates associated with breast cancer are because of the late diagnosis of the disease. Since breast cancer may be asymptomatic in the early stages, it becomes extremely difficult for some women to seek medical care because they do not recognize that they have the disease. There has been an emphasis on the need for regular physical examinations with the primary objective of ensuring that one can detect the development of the lump in its earliest stages. The PICOT question for this research will be, “Would early detection practice strategies reduce mortality associated with breast cancer?”

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  1. Saunders, C., & Jassal, S. (2009). Breast Cancer: The Facts. Oxford: OUP Oxford.
  2. Taghian, A. G. (2009). Breast Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Diagnosis and Management. New York: Demos Medical Pub., LLC.
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