Sunday, July 19, 2009

What is cancer in your mind?

The human body is made up of a wide range of cells. These cells are the simplest units of living matter. When cells become abnormal and they divide themselves without control, cancer appears. In this case, the extra tissue formed by the abnormal reproduction of cells, produces tumors, which can be benign or malign. Malign tumors are cancerous.

The word "cancer" is a general term to define a group of more than 100 diseases. There are many kinds of cancers. Cancer can develop in different parts of the body. For this reason, when people suffer from cancer, they need special therapy to treat their particular kind of cancer.

Nowadays, millions of people around the world have or have had cancer. It is important to explain some factors that can reduce the risk of developing cancer. First, some changing in lifestyle can reduce the possibility of having cancer (physical exercise, a healthy diet and giving up smoking, among others). Secondly, the sooner cancer is found, the better chances are for recovering from this disease.

Breast cancer develops in the cells of the breast in women and men. Despite that, this type of cancer is the most common in women and it is the cause of cancer death in millions of women around the world. In fact, it is the second most common type of cancer after lung cancer. Although breast cancer is more common in women, breast cancer can occur in men also. Incidences of breast cancer in men is one hundered less common than in women, but breast cancer in men shows the same statistical survival figures as women.

Breast cancers are classified according to different categorizations, which have been designed for a special purpose:

1-Pathology: Pathologists are the experts who classify each tumor according to its histological (microscopic anatomy) appearance by using a variety of techniques and methods, which may include the most modern discoveries such as tumor classification by tissue microarray profiling. The most frequent pathologic kinds of breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma, malignant cancer in the breast's ducts, and invasive lobular carcinoma, malignant cancer in the breast's lobules.

2- Tumor grade: This is a method to evaluate cancer cells in terms of their abnormality under a microscope and how fast the tumor is about to develop and spread. A low grade tumor shows normal tissue. A high grade tumor is composed of disorganized cells therefore, so it looks like abnormal tissue. Regarding intermediate grade is situated in the middle of both grades that have explained before.

3- Protein & gene expression status: At present all types of breast cancer must be tested for expression, or detectable effect, of the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2/neu proteins. These studies are often performed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) process and are offered in every pathologist's report. The profile of expression of a given tumor offers the possibility of predicting its prognosis, or outlook, and helps oncologists choose the most appropriate treatment and chemical therapy, if necessary. More genes and/or proteins may be tested in the future.

4- Stage of a tumor. There is an accepted staging scheme for breast cancer and it is the TNM classification.

This general information can provide people with basic data to face their medical controls with responsibility.