Breast cancer—a silent killer

Lawrence Pinto

Every year the month of October is observed as “Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer awareness month”. Pink Ribbon month is observed worldwide. Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer for any Asian population. Breast Cancer is the most common malignancy in women and accounts for 38.5% of all female cancers, which is about 83000 new cases every year. A basic definition of breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. When cells multiply by dividing rapidly, they form a lump, also called tumour. Almost 80% of findings on mammogram are not cancer. They are usually benign tumours. A tumour is defined as a cancer only when it involves nearly tissues and organs and damages them. Then it is called malignant. Women are at a greater risk factor for breast cancer. An important risk factor to the age of the women. Breast Cancer usually attacks older women. A history of breast cancer in the family can also be a risk for a woman in developing cancer. The common symptoms of breast cancer are, a lump in the breast which is usually firm and often painless, prominence of the veins on the surface of one of the breast, an unusual increase of the size of one breast or change of the texture of the nipple.
While it is a fact that the risk of contracting breast cancer increases as one grows older, the disease can occur at any age above sixteen.
There are sign to check breast cancer stand in front of a mirror with both arms on your sides and look closely at both your breasts, look for changes in size, colour or texture, both for any changes in contour, look for change in the nipple.
Mammography is the most reliable way to detect breast cancer, as early as possible Mammograms are like X-rays, not only painless but also very beneficial in detecting breast cancer.
Some people are born with a fault in one of their genes, making them more likely to get cancer or have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Women who have a family history of breast cancer may have a faulty gene in their family that increases their risk. In the past ten years scientists have identified several ‘Oncogenes’ that can raise a person risk of developing breast cancer, BRCA 1, BRCA 2, TB 53 and PTEN. The two most common breast cancer genes are BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Women who inherit a mutated form of these genes have 80% chances of getting breast cancer.

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