Breast! Who doesn't like breast! They are big and small; real and fake; they feed our newborns and our partners! (hehe) They are one of the most fascinating organs in our bodies. Breasts are awesome but they are also in danger with the threat of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer with an estimated 200,000 new cases in 2017. So yea, FUCK CANCER! (Yes, we said it and we mean it.)
What is Cancer?
Normal cells in the body are designed to carry out certain functions to keep us alive and healthy. When normal cells within the body are old or damaged, they have planned and organized ways of growing new cells without interfering our body's normal functions. This is call cell division.
Before cell division happens, there are several checks and balances to ensure that the new cells are not damaged and that have enough nutrients for the cell to survive. If any of those checks and balances fail, the cells does not divide and will wait until everything passes for this process to occur. That's the short of a bigger picture! This process is organized and timely, we usually can't tell it's happening and it's a small percentage of our cells doing this at any given time.
Cancer cells do the TOTAL opposite of our normal cells. There are no checks and balances and cell division is random and unplanned. Caner can grow in any cell of the body and eventually form a tumor. However, with cancer in the blood, which is Leukemia, tumors do not grow but it stops normal fuction of the blood cells.
Since cancer cells do not use any checks or balances, they don't perform any functions as our normal cells would. As they grow, they crowd out our normal cells and begin to damage the area they occupy.
Breast cancer, is cancer cells that grow out of control in the breast tissue. As the cancer grows, it can spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm (armpits). The access to the lymph nodes is what makes breast cancer very dangerous.
Lymph nodes and the lymph system carries fluid, waste, and white blood cells throughout our bodies to get rid of toxins. Since the lymph system travels throughout our entire body, it is easier for cancer to spread in other areas (metastasize). When cancer from the breast tissue spreads , they are usually transported by the lymph system.
Stages of Breast Cancer
Stages of breast cancer are determined by the following factors:
The size of the tumor in the breast
The number of lymph nodes affected with cancer cells
Other organs that may have been invaded
The stages of breast cancer range from 0-4 depending on the above criteria. As cancer spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs in the body, the stages advance.
Early detection of breast cancer is key to prevent it from spreading. Self-breast exams, breast exams by your doctor or Nurse Practitioner (these can be done with your yearly pap) and mammograms for women over 40 and who are at greater risk are essential.
All images used in the post were from source: Giphy