Breast Cancer Thesis

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Breast Cancer is a disease that has destroyed the lives of many people and their families. The presence of the disease has changed the manner in which the medical community functions as it pertains to diagnosis and treatment. Throughout the past few decades there has been a great deal of research conducted concerning the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Breast Cancer. The need for such research is reflected in the sheer number of people that are diagnosed with the disease each year. The purpose of this discussion is the examine the prevalence of breast cancer in the country and in Madison County, Illinois specifically. The research will discuss diagnosis, treatment and support available to breast cancer patients and their families.

According to an article published by Health People 2010 cancer is currently the second leading cause of death in America. In the year 2000 Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. During 2000, there were over 1.2 million people who were expected to be diagnosed with the disease (Health People 2010 ). In addition, more than half a million were expected to die as a result of the disease. The article explains that these estimate are exclusive of the majority of skin cancers of which new cases were expected to be more than 1 million (Health People 2010 ). The article also explain that nearly 50% of all new cases of cancer are diagnosed in people who are 65 and older (Health People 2010 ).

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The article further explains that nearly 491,400 people who are diagnosed with cancer ever year or 40% of people who are diagnosed with cancer are expected to still be alive 5 years after diagnosis (Health People 2010 ). Additionally "When adjusted for normal life expectancy

(accounting for factors such as dying of heart disease, injuries, and diseases of old age), a relative 5-year survival rate of 60% is seen for all cancers.

This rate means that the chance of a person recently diagnosed with cancer being alive in 5 years is 60% of the chance of someone not diagnosed with cancer.

Thesis on Breast Cancer Assignment

Five-year relative survival rates commonly are used to monitor progress in the early detection and treatment of cancer and include persons who are living 5 years after diagnosis, whether in remission, disease free, or under treatment (Health People 2010) ."

According to the National Cancer Institute, "From 2002-2006, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the breast was 61 years of age… Approximately 0.0% were diagnosed under age 20; 1.9% between 20 and 34; 10.5% between 35 and 44; 22.5% between 45 and 54; 23.7% between 55 and 64; 19.6% between 65 and 74; 16.2% between 75 and 84; and 5.5% 85+ years of age (SEER Stat Fact Sheets)." In addition the Institute explains that the median for someone to die of cancer in the United States is 68(SEER Stat Fact Sheets). The death rate for women between the ages of 20 and 34 is 1%, 35 and 44 is 6.2%; 45-54 is 15.1%; 55 and 64 is 20.3%; 65 and 74 is 19.8%; 75 and 84 is 22.8% (SEER Stat Fact Sheets).

As it pertains specifically to the state of Illinois and the prevalence of Breast cancer, the Illinois state department of health has offered statistics that are reflective of prevalence rates for the entire state and individual counties. These statistics are only inclusive of breast cancer rates for women. However, it is important to remember that man can also be diagnosed with breast cancer. According to these statistics there were 44,145 cases of breast cancer in the state of Illinois from 2005-2009 ("Projected Female Breast Cancer Incidence…"). The statistics explain that annually the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Illinois during the aforementioned time frame was 8,830 ("Projected Female Breast Cancer Incidence…"). For Madison county the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2005-2009 was 935 ("Projected Female Breast Cancer Incidence…"). The number of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year during this time frame was 185 ("Projected Female Breast Cancer Incidence…").

Integrated Review of Research

Although Breast Cancer continues to be a serious problem for the population, there have also been some noted declines in the number of diagnosed breast cancer cases. There has been some speculation as to why this phenomenon has occurred. Some researchers argue that the decrease is due to the decline in women receiving estrogen treatments which have been linked to the development of breast cancer. According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 fell by nearly 7% when compared with the number of diagnoses in 2002. The article further explains that

"Data from 2004 showed a leveling off relative to the 2003 rate, with little additional decrease. Regression analysis showed that the decrease began in mid-


and had begun to level off by mid-2003. A comparison of incidence rates in 2001 with those in 2004 (omitting the years in which the incidence was changing) showed that the decrease in annual age-adjusted incidence was 8.6%

(95% confidence interval [CI], 6.8 to 10.4) (Ravdin et al. 2007, 1670)."

The article also explains that the decrease in the number of breast cancer cases was the most apparent in women aged 50 and over. In addition the decrease was most evident in cancers that tend to be estrogen-receptor -- positive instead of those that were estrogen-receptor -- negative (Ravdin et al. 2007, 1670). The article further explains that the decrease in breast cancer diagnoses is most likely related to the first report of the Women's Health Initiative and the ensuing drop in the use of hormone-replacement therapy among postmenopausal women in the United States (Ravdin et al. 2007, 1670). Additionally, contributions of other causes to the change in the occurrences of breast cancer seem less likely to have played a major role but have not been excluded (Ravdin et al. 2007, 1670).

Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Although Breast Cancer is a serious disease in many cases it can be completely remedied when diagnosed early. There are different methods that are used to diagnose cancer. One of the most common and reliable is a mammogram. According to the Illinois Department of public health "a mammogram is an X-ray examination of the breast in a woman who has no breast complaints (asymptomatic). The goal of screening mammography is to find cancer when it is still too small to be felt by breast self-examination or your doctor. Finding small breast cancers early by a screening mammogram greatly improves your chance for successful treatment ("About the IBCCP")." Mammograms are effective because they yield high quality X-rays, and they only require the patient to be exposed to a minimal dose of radiation ("About the IBCCP"). For the purposes of performing the mammogram the breasts are placed between two smooth plastic plates. The breast are then flattened which allows for a low dose of radiation to be utilized. The flattening of the breast can be uncomfortable for the patient but it is a temporary discomfort. In general a mammogram only takes 20 minutes to complete ("About the IBCCP").

In addition to mammograms, self breast exams are also important. A significant percentage of women have found their own breast exams as a result of self-exams. These exams should be done 10 days after the first day of a woman's period ("About the IBCCP"). These exams are effective because women do them monthly and they allow a woman to detect any changes in her breast.

Other alternatives for breast cancer diagnosis has also been proposed for people who are at an increased risk of contracting breast cancer. For these individuals it has been recommended that testing begin at a younger age. In addition, researchers assert that in addition to mammograms, these individual should also have MRIs.

"Screening MRI is recommended for women with an approximately 20 -- 25% or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer, including women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer and women who were treated for Hodgkin disease. There are several risk subgroups for which the available data are insufficient to recommend for or against screening, including women with a personal history of breast cancer, carcinoma in situ, atypical hyperplasia, and extremely dense breasts on mammography (Saslow et al., 2007)."

The purpose of giving increased attention to those who have a genetic predisposition for cancer is to catch the cancer early and prevent death or the need for intense treatment (Saslow et al., 2007) .

Treatment for Breast Cancer

Once an individual is faced with the reality that they have breast cancer, there are several treatments to choose from. These treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, diet and other alternative treatments. According to the National Cancer Institute for many people with cancer surgery is the first step in treatment. There are different types of surgery (Breast Cancer Treatment). The first type is breast conserving surgery which involves… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Breast Cancer" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Breast Cancer.  (2010, March 1).  Retrieved September 18, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Breast Cancer."  1 March 2010.  Web.  18 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Breast Cancer."  March 1, 2010.  Accessed September 18, 2020.