As we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to mark this annual observance with an up-to-date look at this grave but promising area of focus for the biomedical field. To honor those impacted as well as those working on cures and prevention, today we are looking more closely at some of the established and lesser-known facts about breast cancer, as well as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and how people can participate in this show of solidarity.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease where breast cells grow uncontrollably and can spread through the blood and lymph vessels. Cancer develops when a human’s genetic growth becomes abnormal. Usually, cell growth occurs in a sequence, but when that sequence is disrupted, the cells can keep dividing and spread throughout the body system. These cells gather together to create a tumor that can either be life-threatening or non-dangerous.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes place in October, where people hold annual campaign to help increase awareness of the disease. The WHO reported that there are 458,000 deaths solely from breast cancer each year. It is important to raise awareness in developing countries, where women in the low and middle class with breast cancer lacked the awareness for early detection and access to proper health services. Another reason why people are raising awareness for those that are living in the developing countries is because therapies and clinical examination are very costly for those that are unable to afford it.
Identifying and Reducing Risks
Symptoms of breast cancer:
- Lumps/swelling in the breast, upper chest, or armpit
- Skin, nipples, and breast changes texture and colors
- Rash around the nipple area
- Unusual discharge
Ways to reduce risks:
- Maintaining healthy
- Weight Exercising
- Replacing therapy
- Decrease alcohol consumption
The most common type of treatments is chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, surgery, and biologics therapy. In March 2019, the FDA approved a new innovative immunotherapy drug called atezolizumab, which targets the PD-L1 protein to wipe out the cancer cells. This treatment is available for patients with triple negative breast cancer (more aggressive than other types of breast cancer). The triple-negative breast cancer will spread beyond the chest area. This cancer type is very persistent, meaning that it will target the patient after 3 years of treatment and more deadly if it comes back after 5 years. Immunotherapy’s side effects are less powerful than chemotherapy. Depending on the body type, the following side effects may or may not occur. Common effects are feeling tired/fatigued, diarrhea, high fever, shortness of breath, rashes covering the body, nausea, vomiting, and itching.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awarenessmonth.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. (2012, October 16). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/cancer/events/breast_cancer_month/en/.
Emens, L. A. (n.d.). Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancerresearch.org/immunotherapy/cancer-types/breastcancer.
What Is Breast Cancer? (2018, May 18). Retrieved October 9, 2019, from https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/what_is_bc.