Causes And Consequences Of Breast Cancer

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Breast Cancer
It was not that long ago that the author this paper did not understand the entirety of what it meant when someone was told they had breast cancer. Although she had a basic understanding of the horrific consequences, she did not understand how complex and elusive cancer could be. She did not understand the difference between staging and grading tumors, nor the different tumor markers and what they meant. She knew chemotherapy and radiation were treatments, but knew very little about the different regimes. She was aware of some of the side effects of the disease as well as the treatments, but only on a superficial level. She knew that being dealt the cancer card was emotionally taxing, but could not appreciate the depth of despair.
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In fact, long before the diagnosis there are changes on a microscopic level that are setting the stage for one’s journey. Studies of synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) and endocrine disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA), suggest that exposure to these substances in utero predisposes one to breast cancer later in life (Soto, Brisken, Schaeberle, & Sonnenschein, 2013). Yet, it is not known exactly how these and other risk factors cause cells to become cancerous. What has been assumed in the past was that there was a mutation in a single cell that caused uncontrolled cell proliferation. With the discovery of carcinogens though, a new theory developed that involved interactions at the tissue and organ level (Soto, Brisken, Schaeberle, & Sonnenschein, 2013). With both of these theories, one can surmise that breast cancer is present long before it is discovered.
Discovering breast cancer is a life-changing event. Whether found by mammography, ultrasound, MRI, or palpation, one is never quite prepared to hear the diagnosis. More so, one has no idea what they are in for once they are told. Suddenly, the single word “cancer” is no longer sufficient to describe the disease. Providers must dissect it, describe it in detail, and eventually destroy it. But in order to eradicate it, one must know a variety of things that can only be found in a pathology report.
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Grading a tumor is derived from an assessment of three morphological features, each of which is scored 1 – 3 (Elston & Ellis, 1991). Tubule formation, nuclear pleomorphism, and mitotic counts are assessed, scored and totaled. A score of 5 or less is a grade I tumor, which is well differentiated. A score of 6 – 7 is a grade II tumor, and is moderately differentiated. And a score of 8 – 9 is a grade III tumor and is poorly differentiated. There is a high correlation between histological grade and prognosis. Patients with poorly differentiated tumors do not fare as well as those with well-differentiated tumors (Elston & Ellis,

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