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Emmerdale’s Melandra Burrows says her breast cancer prognosis ‘changes on a regular basis’


Breast cancer is one of the vital common cancers on this planet. Annually within the UK there are greater than 55,000 recent cases, and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. Within the US, it strikes 266,000 every year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and the way can or not it’s treated?

What’s breast cancer?

Breast cancer develops from a cancerous cell which develops in the liner of a duct or lobule in one in all the breasts.

When the breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue it is known as an ‘invasive’ breast cancer. Some persons are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

Most cases develop in women over the age of fifty but younger ladies are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men though that is rare.

Staging means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to a different a part of the body.

The cancerous cells are graded from low, which suggests a slow growth, to high, which is fast growing. High grade cancers usually tend to come back after they’ve first been treated.

What causes breast cancer?

A cancerous tumour starts from one abnormal cell. The precise reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is assumed that something damages or alters certain genes within the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply ‘uncontrolled’.

Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk aspects that may increase the possibility of developing breast cancer, comparable to genetics.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

The standard first symptom is a painless lump within the breast, although most breast lumps usually are not cancerous and are fluid filled cysts, that are benign. 

The primary place that breast cancer normally spreads to is the lymph nodes within the armpit. If this happens you’ll develop a swelling or lump in an armpit.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

  • Initial assessment: A physician examines the breasts and armpits. They could do tests comparable to a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue which might indicate the potential of tumours.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is faraway from an element of the body. The sample is then examined under the microscope to search for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or rule out cancer.

When you are confirmed to have breast cancer, further tests could also be needed to evaluate if it has spread. For instance, blood tests, an ultrasound scan of the liver or a chest x-ray.

How is breast cancer treated?

Treatment options which could also be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. Often a mixture of two or more of those treatments are used.

  • Surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or the removal of the affected breast depending on the dimensions of the tumour.
  • Radiotherapy: A treatment which uses high energy beams of radiation focussed on cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or stops cancer cells from multiplying. It is especially used along with surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: A treatment of cancer by utilizing anti-cancer drugs which kill cancer cells, or stop them from multiplying
  • Hormone treatments: Some kinds of breast cancer are affected by the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen, which might stimulate the cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments which reduce the extent of those hormones, or prevent them from working, are commonly utilized in individuals with breast cancer.

How successful is treatment?

The outlook is best in those that are diagnosed when the cancer continues to be small, and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumour in an early stage may then give probability of cure.

The routine mammography offered to women between the ages of fifty and 70 mean more breast cancers are being diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

For more information visit breastcancercare.org.uk, breastcancernow.org or www.cancerhelp.org.uk

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