Cancer is defined as “when the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.” (“What is cancer?”, 2017), caused by mutations that lead to the cell cycle to proceed, regardless if the cell is qualified to. The mutations block the use of the G1, G2, and M checkpoints in the cell cycle. These checkpoints are important in “sensing defects that occur during essential processes, and induce a cell cycle arrest in response until the defects are repaired.”(“Cell Cycle Checkpoint”, 2018). Breast Cancer is a form of cancer that can be inherited or acquired throughout life. When inherited, Breast cancer is caused by a mutation on chromosome 13 on either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
Having a mutation on one of the BRCA genes leads to Breast cancer because the function of the gene is to “repair cell damage and keep breast, ovarian, and other cells growing normally.”(“What is Cancer?”, 2017). BRCA genes are categorized as tumor suppressor genes which regulate cell growth. Mutations in a tumor suppressor gene results in uncontrolled cell growth, caused by an increase in both cell division and differentiation because the cell cycle is accelerated and checkpoints do not prevent the cell from diving, whether it is ready to or not. Uncontrolled cell growth is caused by unregulated cell division – cancer. The newly formed cells need to go somewhere, but since they are not necessary, there is no space for them in the body. The cells will pile up and will infringe upon other tissues and organs.
If untreated, breast cancer, and all other forms of cancer, put you at risk of death because more cells will divide, leading to tumors that will alter body processes, and cells with damaged DNA will keep dividing, so cellular processes will have problems. Breast cancer can spread cancer to other parts of the body including the nearby lymph nodes in the armpit. If it “spreads beyond your breast and the nearby lymph nodes, it’s considered advanced, or metastatic.” (Fields, 2017).
Cancer is an exhausting genetic disease that affects every patient differently. There are many stages of cancer, often stages I-IV, so it may not be life threatening to many people, depending on what stage the cancer has reached. Those with a higher number stage, such as stage 4, have a more aggressive and advanced form of cancer. If diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, the cancer will be more difficult to get rid of because “the cancer has metastasized (spread) throughout the body.”(“Metastasis: Diagnosing & Treating Metastatic Cancer”, 2010).
Breast cancer is a specific form of cancer in which “cells in the breast begin to grow out of control”(“What is Breast Cancer?”, 2017). Breast cancer can be caused by “Genetic changes… inherited from our parents”(“What is Cancer?”, 2017), or acquired in life. The cancer leads to lumps or masses in the breast tissue of the patient and can spread to surrounding lymphnodes and tissues. The genetic mutations occur on the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes on chromosome 13, leading to the checkpoints of the cell cycle not working and unregulated cell growth occurs continuously. To treat this cancer, one would need to inhibit the uncontrolled cell growth and/or remove the tissues affected by the cancer surgically. Breast cancer requires many life-altering decisions, making it hard on the patient and family to live through.
Those with breast cancer show symptoms including “skin changes, such as swelling, redness, or other visible differences in one or both breasts; an increase in size or change in shape of the breast(s)… nipple discharge other than breast milk; general pain in/on any part of the breast; Lumps or nodes felt on or inside of the breast…” (“What are the symptoms & signs of breast cancer?”, 2001). These symptoms can help those diagnosed with this type of cancer get treated before the cancer spreads and becomes stage 4. Other times, these symptoms go unnoticed or put off, which can be dangerous to the patient.
Breast cancer “treatment depends on the stage of cancer. It may consist of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.” (https://g.co/kgs/m7poJt, 2016). There is no definite way of getting rid of the cancer, just as most cancers do not have a definite cure. Chemotherapy and radiation are “used to treat just the tumor, so it affects only the part of the body that has cancer.”(“The Difference Between Chemo and Radiation,” 2018). Many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer end up having their breasts removed, followed by chemotherapy and radiation to ensure the cancer did not spread and hopefully is all removed. Breast cancer is an aggressive cancer that changes the appearance of those diagnosed with it, as well as changes their personality because it drains them of energy by going through treatments, possible surgery, and having the will to fight to stay strong and get through it. The most important thing to remember about being diagnosed with cancer is “Even if it isn’t curable, there are treatments that can help manage your cancer.”(Boyles, 2017).
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