The Breast Cancer Book.

The Informed Breast Cancer Patient

The Informed Breast Cancer Patient is the complete guide to everything breast cancer. It covers prevention, how to get treatment and post treatment dos and don’ts. It is written in simple language everyone can understand.

(The following information on breast cancer is culled from Sebeccly’s book – The Informed Breast Cancer Patient which is available for download here)

THE BREAST

Both men and women have breasts, but women have more breast tissue than men. The breast is made up of fatty tissue and glandular1, milk-producing tissues. The breasts extends from just below the collarbone, to the armpit and across to the breastbone. In women, the breasts usually extend from the level of the second rib to the level of the sixth rib in the front of the rib cage.

Prior to puberty there are no obvious differences between the male and female breast. With the onset of puberty, dramatic changes begin in the appearance and function of the female breast. These changes are the result of the unique response of the breast to various normal hormonal2 influences in women.

WHAT IS CANCER?

Cancer cells are abnormal cells that grow and spread to other parts of the body. Sometimes, the process of cell growth goes wrong and new cells form when the body doesn’t need them and old or damaged cells do not die, as they should.  When this occurs, a build-up of cells often forms a mass of tissue called a lump, growth, or tumour.

Cancer can affect just about every organ in the human body. Many people are surprised to learn that cancer can affect parts of the body like eyes and the heart. Each type of cancer is unique with its own causes, symptoms, and methods of treatment.

When abnormal cells grow in the breast as described earlier, this is called breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide.

CAUSES AND PROTECTIVE FACTORS

Breast cancer is usually caused by a genetic abnormality (a “mistake” in the genetic material), 5-10% of cancers are due to an abnormality inherited from parents. About 90% of breast cancers are due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and the “wear and tear” of life in general.

The trigger for this genetic abnormality is not really known but some factors have been identified to increase the likelihood of having breast cancer, these are called the ‘risk factors’.