What Is Breast Cancer?

What Is Breast Cancer?

My daughter came to me the other day and asked, “What is breast cancer, Mommy?” I was taken aback by the question because she is only five years old. I told her what I knew in very limited detail, and she seemed satisfied with my answer. To me, this seemed to be an indication that all of the promotions out there geared towards making woman aware of breast cancer are working, and that it is reaching people of all ages. Though my answer to her was rather simple, older men and woman need to know the answer in more detail. The more you know the better off you are going to be in the long run. Early detection greatly increases anyone’s chances of survival.

Perhaps the question should be ‘what are they symptoms of breast cancer’ rather than ‘what is breast cancer,’ but either question is good. The important thing is awareness. This type of cancer is much like any other, but it always starts somewhere in the breasts. Cancer cells are always abnormal, and when they grow and spread they can lead to death. When a woman or a man knows what symptoms to look for, they are more likely to spot things early. Though most cases of breast cancer occur in women, there is a small percentage of men who are diagnosed each year. This means men should also be asking the question, “What is breast cancer.”

Breast cancer starts in the breasts, but the most common types start in a very small area. This is the best time for the cancer to be detected. In this early stage it is very treatable, and the survival rate is very high. The numbers of those being diagnosed with breast cancer is very high, and no one is really sure why this is. There are some risk factors including genetics and smoking, but much is left to be answered. Though your chances of getting cancer are greater as you age, you should know that those who get it later in life have an easier time getting a clean bill of health.

If breast cancer in not caught in the early stages, it turns into what is called invasive cancer. This means that cancer has spread to other areas of the breast, and may have spread to other parts of the body. As you can imagine, this is much tougher to fight, and your chances of survival are not as high. This does not mean you should give up, however. You can still beat it, but the fight might be a little harder. With proper guidance and medical treatment, this advanced stage of cancer is treatable.

If you have a daughter, and she has not asked, ‘what is breast cancer,’ like my daughter has, you should make sure you  bring it up. For some moms, this can be an uncomfortable discussion, but it is important that you have it. This might be something that will save her life. You don’t have to go into detail, but you should let her know her risk factors, and that a self-exam is the most important thing she can do. If you really have problems with how to explain what is breast cancer all about, or how to say so she can understand it, take her in to talk to your doctor. Young girls may take it more seriously if they hear it from a doctor or other medical professional.

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