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Menopause and Learning breast anatomy
breast cancer risk is important for health

t

m

enopause
occurs
when a woman’s
reproductive
cycle is over and
she can no longer
produce
offspring. For
many women,
menopause occurs
around age 50.

While menopause itself is
not a risk for breast or other
cancers, it’s important to know
that some symptom treatments
and other factors can increase
the risk for cancer among
menopausal women. the
North American menopause
Society says that a woman
going through perimenopause
and menopause may
experience various symptoms,
which can range from hair
loss to food cravings to hot
flashes to vaginal dryness.
the National Institutes of
health indicates some women
undergo combined hormone
therapy, also called hormone
replacement therapy, or hrt,
to help relieve menopausal
symptoms such as hot flashes
and osteoporosis. this
therapy replaces estrogen and
progestin, which diminish
in a woman’s body after
menopause sets in. however,
NIh’s Women’s health
Initiative Study has found that
women undergoing hrt have
a higher risk of breast cancer,
among other conditions.
Webmd says evidence
suggests that the longer a

woman is exposed to female
hormones, whether it’s those
made by the body, taken
as a drug or delivered by a
patch, the more likely she
is to develop breast cancer.
that means that hrt can
increase breast cancer risk and
also indicates that the longer
a woman remains fertile the
greater her risk for certain
cancers. Females who began
menstruating before age 12
or entered menopause after
age 55 will have had many
ovulations. this increases the
risk of uterine, breast and
ovarian cancers, states the
American Society of Clinical
oncology. It also may impact a
woman’s chances of developing
endometrial cancer.
gaining weight after
menopause can also increase a
woman’s risk of breast cancer,
states the md Anderson
Cancer Center. therefore,
maintaining a healthy weight
or even losing a little weight
can be beneficial.
Women who enter menopause
are not necessarily at a
higher risk for breast cancer,
but some factors tied to
menopause can play a role.
Females who want to lower
their risk for various cancers
are urged to eat healthy diets,
quit smoking and maintain
healthy body weights.

he well-known
breast cancer
advocacy and research
group Susan g. Komen
indicates that, according
to the most recent data
available, 1.7 million new
cases of breast cancer
occurred among women
worldwide in 2012.

Western europe, North America and
northern europe have the highest breast
cancer incidences in the world, according to the International
Agency for research on
Cancer and the World
health organization.
Women diagnosed with
breast cancer may want
to begin their treatment
journeys by educating themselves on the
anatomy of the breast
so they can better understand their disease
and how it develops.
the structure of the
breast is complex
and comprised of fat,
glandular tissue, connective tissue, lobes,
lobules, ducts, lymph nodes, blood vessels, and ligaments. the following is a
breakdown of the common components
of the breast.
Fat cells: the female breast is largely fat
cells called adipose tissue. this tissue
extends from the collarbone down to the
underarm and across to the middle of the
rib cage. the main purpose of adipose
tissue is to store energy in the form of fat
and insulate the body.
Lobules: each breast contains several
sections that branch out from the nipple.
Lobule glands make milk and are often
grouped together to form lobes. there

may be between 15 and 20 lobes in each
breast, says the Cleveland Clinic. each
lobe has roughly 20 to 40 lobules.
ducts: Connecting the lobules are small
tubes called ducts. the ducts carry milk
to the nipples of the breasts. there are
around 10 duct systems in each breast,
each with its own opening at the nipple.
Nipple: the nipple may be the most
recognizeable part of the breast. It is in
the center of the breast. the lobules will
squeeze milk into the ducts, which then
transfer it to the nipples. most nipples
protrude outward, but according to
health magazine’s medical editor roshini
rajapaksa, md, some women have flat
or inverted nipples. the nipples do not
have a singular hole for the milk to come
out like an artificial bottle nipple. rather,
there are many lactiferous duct outlets in
each
nipple that correspond
to the ducts in each
breast.
Lymph system: Snaking through the adipose tissue are lymph
vessels and nodes. the
lymph system distributes disease-fighting
cells and fluids as part
of the immune system,
states the National
Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Bean-shaped lymph nodes in
fixed areas through the system
filter abnormal cells away from
healthy tissue.
Areola: the areola is pigmented skin surrounding a nipple. the areola contains
tubercles called montgomery’s glands,
which secrete lubricating materials to
make breastfeeding more comfortable.
Changes in any areas of the breast may
be indicative of cancer. that is why
women are urged to understand their
breasts’ “normal” appearance and feel so
they can recognize any
changes and address them with a doctor
right away.

Breast Cancer TreaTMenT

t

he most effective treatment for
breast cancer depends on the
stage at which it is diagnosed.

According to the National
Cancer Institute, there are five
available treatment options: surgery,
radiation, chemotherapy, hormone
therapy and targeted therapy. A
doctor may recommend a combination of these treatments.

Surgery

removing the sentinel lymph
node (the first node to receive
drainage from a tumor) is common.
Patients may also get a lumpectomy,
which removes the cancer and some
normal tissue around it. A total
mastectomy is the removal of the
entire cancerous breast; this may
also include removing some of the
lymph nodes to determine if the
cancer spread.

ChemotherAPy
ANd rAdIAtIoN

Before surgery, chemotherapy,
which uses drugs to stop the growth
of cancer cells, can shrink a tumor
and reduce the amount of tissue
that needs to be removed. After surgery, the doctor may recommend
chemotherapy or radiation to kill

any remaining cancer
cells. radiation therapy uses high-energy
X-rays to destroy the
cancer cells or keep
them from growing.
external radiation
therapy requires a
machine to send radiation toward the body,
while internal radiation therapy requires a
radioactive substance
placed directly in or
near the cancer. Both
treatments, while they
have shown to be
effective, come with
serious side effects.

hormoNe
ANd
tArgeted
therAPy

these types of therapy are given after the
surgery to remove the
breast cancer with the purpose of
destroying any remaining cancer
cells. hormones like estrogen, which

SUPPORTING THE

Fighters
Fighters

ADMIRING THE

is produced naturally by glands in
the body, can cause breast cancer to
grow, and hormone therapy is used
to reduce the production of hormones or
stop them
from affecting the cancer’s
growth.
Certain
types of
HONORING THE
hormone
therapy
have been

Su
Survivors
rvivors

Taken
Taken

AND NEVER GIVING UP

shown to cause other health problems, including an increased risk of
other types of cancer. Patients should
talk to their doctor about continued
hormone testing after the cancer
treatment is finished.
targeted therapy uses drugs and
other substances to find specific cancer cells without damaging healthy
cells. there are many types of treatments, including the use of antibodies, which can be used to deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to the cancer cells instead of flooding the entire
system.

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