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The human body is an amazing machine which functions with systems that are more advanced than any which man has ever created. However, as with any machine, malfunctions can occur and these are the diseases which cause death. Cancer is one of these diseases; it causes death and devastation for many millions of people each year. The leading cause of death of woman aged between 40-49 in North America is one of these cancer. It is breast cancer and the recent fear of it has engulfed women of all ages.
The fear and frustration of breast cancer has affected thousands of women and their families, mainly in recent years, and it does not seem to be slowing down. According to the American Cancer Society, bout 184,3000 North American women will discover that they have breast cancer and another 44,300 women will die of it alone. Breast Cancer is a horrible disease and it devastates thousands of families each year. What makes it even more difficult to conceive is that a woman is at a very high risk just because she is a woman. The breasts which have been with her almost all her life, those which gave her children strength and growth, those which have been a symbol of beauty are now going to destroy her. These are facts which women who have the disease must face and the mental and psychological strain is unimaginable to those who are not affected.
As with mainly all diseases, there is not just one contributing factor to its existence. Breast Cancer has numerous causes and by studying these factors, we can see who is at high risk. In a life-time, a person will either be diagnosed with cancer or die from it. Women between the ages of 25-29 who have used oral contraceptives, or are taking the pill, are 16% more likely to develop Breast Cancer. Women in the United States, at an early age, have less of a risk of developing Breast Cancer than a women in her later age. American Cancer Society Surveillance Research shows that a women in her twenties has a 1 in 2,500 chance of developing Breast Cancer in the next 10 years, where a woman in her fifties has a 1 in 39 chance of developing the cancer.
It is a fact that if there is a family history of Breast Cancer, the risk of the offspring developing Breast Cancer increases because of the inheritance of the genes. These genes appear in various family members over generations. 5%-10% of Breast Cancer is believed to be inherited.
There are several known Breast Cancer genes which geneticists have now located. BRCA-1 was isolated in 1994, and is thought to be one of the genes responsible for causing Breast Cancer. BRCA-2 is less common, but together the two genes are accounted for approximately 40%-50% if the hereditary Breast Cancer.
Commercial screening tests were developed when the two Breast Cancer-causing genes were isolated. Commercial screening tests include mammography which is an x-ray picture of the breast. It can detect tumors less than two centimeters in size. Therefore, a mammography should be done routinely.
Every disease has a limiting factor and this factor is research money. Research costs are extremely high and they must be taken care of by some sort of organization. As of March 1998, the American Cancer Society was granted 7 million dollars towards environmental cancerogenesis and cancer. 743,000 dollars of that amount went towards Breast Cancer.
The environmental causes of Breast Cancer, although great, are not properly funded by the ACS. This is because there are only a few assumptions as to what environmental causes can promote Breast Cancer; due to the fact that they cannot be easily determined experimentally. Because cancer takes years to develop, experimentation is difficult and all environments must be tested in order to have an objective and full conclusion. Project grants average around $100,000 per year for about 2-3 years of work is definitely not enough time to see actual environmental causations. Perhaps in the future, with more advanced technologies, experiments may be able to overcome the limits of time and then we will be able to fully understand cancer and its causes.
The Breast Cancer Society of Canada is
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Breast cancer, Ribbon symbolism, RTT, Cancer screening, Hereditary cancers, Mammography, Cancer, BRCA1, Risk factors for breast cancer, BRCA mutation
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