Cancer is an ailment that causes the cells of the body to change and grow out of control. There are many types of cancers, most of which are named after specific parts of the body where the tumor originates from. A tumor is a mass or lump formed by cancer cells. Breast cancer is an ailment that starts in the breast tissue. Glands producing milk known as ‘lobules’ and ducts connecting lobules to the nipple are found in the breast tissue. The rest of the breast has lymphatic tissues fatty and connective. The majority of tumors that form in the breast are not cancerous. They are not life-threatening and do not grow uncontrollably although they cause abnormal growth. However, some of the breast tumors contain cancer cells but are called ‘insitu’ for the reason that it has not spread beyond the area it had begun. Some types of breast cancer tumors are invasive or infiltrative. This type of tumor starts from the lobules or ducts of breasts, infiltrates through the duct or gland walls, and attacks the surrounding fatty tissue of the breast. The enormity of invasive breast cancer is influenced by the stage of the ailment. This means that it depends on the extent of spread at the time of diagnosis, for instance; tumors confined to the breast are described at the local stage, tumors that have sipped to the surrounding tissues or nearby lymph nodes are described at the regional stage, and those that have spread to distant organs are described at the distant stage (McGinnis, 60).
Treatment of Breast cancer
The breast cancer patient and her physician are tasked to decide on the treatment after considering the optimal treatment available for the stage. The decision also considers the biological characteristics of cancer, the age, and preferences of the patient, and also the risks and benefits associated with each treatment protocol. Surgery is the most recommended treatment for patients with breast cancer. The surgery is often combined with other treatments such as one, radiation therapy where radiation is used to destroy cancer cells that remain in the breast, chest walls, and other body parts after surgery; two, systemic therapy which includes chemotherapy and hormone therapy. This treatment is used to eliminate tumor cells that were not detected and may have spread to other body parts after visible cancer had been surgically removed. However, the use of this therapy depends on the size of the tumor, histology, and availability of cancer in auxiliary nodes; three, chemotherapy treatment uses a combination of drugs in the treatment of breast cancer. The likelihood of breast cancer patients responding to second-line drugs in case the disease becomes resistant to first-line drugs is high; three, hormone therapy which is the treatment that is appropriate for women whose breast cancer tests positive for estrogen receptors. The ovaries produce hormones called estrogen which promote the growth of some breast cancer.
Breast cancer is more predominant in a specific race due to differences in socioeconomic dynamic that exists among race or ethnic groups. Prevalence is high among the white because the majority can afford diagnosis costs. Low-income groups find it difficult and expensive to undergo diagnosis procedures hence low prevalence rates. Race, class, or educational level of breast cancer patients affect the quality of health care provided. The studies conducted on cancer mortality rates by socioeconomic status deduces the differences associated with poverty. The results from cancer mortality rates demonstrate that poverty is correlated with the disparities or differences within and between racial and ethnic groups. In addition, lack of health insurance is associated with late diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, and higher mortality rates. Poverty has a direct bearing on the quality of health care provided by doctors. For instance, poor communities have less educated providers of health care, for example, fewer certified physicians on the board. Moreover, doctors performing their practices in poor communities are less likely to be paid appropriately for the services they render.
Physicians are sensitive to the emotional and spiritual pain women experience when dealing with the diagnostic of the ailment. There is evidence that suggests that doctors are always reluctant to give bad or sad news. This reflects the difficulty the physician experiences in passing this type of information as a desire to protect the patient from the distress it will provoke.
This study used data from the 1992 to 1999 National Cancer Institute to compare the predominance of breast cancer in a specific races or ethnic groups. An extensive cancer registry is operated called Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Result Program, http://seer.cancer.gov is operated by the National Cancer Institute.
The results on the occurrence rates of breast cancer on women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds revealed that the occurrence rate per 100,000 was139 for white American women; 121 for African American women; 98 for Asian and Pacific Island women; 82 for Hispanic women; and 42 for Indian Americans and Alaska native women. The 1995 to 1999 cancer mortality rates revealed three levels of poverty: one, countries with a population of 10% of people living below the poverty line; two, countries with 10% to 20% of people living below the level; and nations with more than 20% of people living in poverty. It was observed that the more than 20% poverty group had the highest breast cancer mortality rates compared to other groups (Kosary et al., 2).
A study conducted in the period 1992 to 2000, revealed that the mortality rate among females with breast cancer declined overall. It declined by 2.6% among white American women, 1.4% in Hispanic American women, 1.1 African American women, and Asian and Pacific Island and Alaska natives, the rates remained constant among American Indians and Alaska natives (Kosary et al., 2).
Ganz in his research assessed patients with breast cancer in the early stage at point four in time during the first surgery year; reassessment was done to some of these women after 2 to 3 years post-surgery. The data suggested that a subset of women be at risk for psychosexual distress after treatment. 54% of the group in the first year did not feel sexually attractive, 44% were not interested in having sex, 58% had decreased frequency of sexual intercourse, 42% had arousal difficulty problem, 50% lubrication difficulty, and 41% were unable to achieve orgasm (Ganz, 38).
The danger of women contracting breast cancer differs substantially among women from different races or ethnicity in the United States. The disease is more predominant with white American women compared to African American, Asian Pacific, Hispanic, and American Indian women respectively. The incidence of breast cancer was expressed as the number of cases newly diagnosed each year for every 100,000 women. This rate covered a specific period of 1992 to 1999 and was adjusted for the ages of women within the groups (Kosary, 2). The age adjustment accounted for the high incidence of breast cancer for aged women and allowed the comparison of groups made up of different percentages of older and younger women. The occurrence rate for breast cancer among American women were; 139 for white women, 121 for African American women, 98 for Asian and Pacific Island women, 82 for Hispanic women, and 42 women for native and Alaska native women. In a detailed study carried out in the period 1988 and 1992 examining Asian Pacific Island women in the US, recorded occurrence rates which were higher in Hawaiian women followed by Japanese women, and Korean women respectively. Therefore, it can be deduced that breast cancer is predominant in a particular race or ethnic community because of the socioeconomic differences among them. Diagnosis of breast cancer is not done regularly by the poor groups compared to those groups that can afford to meet diagnosis expenses (Kosary, 2).
In the US, most studies of breast occurrences in racial or ethnic groups concentrate on the differences between white women and African American women. It is not known why there are variances in occurrences of breast cancer in women with different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Likely explanations for the racial or ethnic incidence differences are due to one, dangers associated with breast cancer; two, diet; exposure to breast cancer-causing agents; and four, socioeconomic situation. The mortality rate of African American women with breast cancer is most likely to be higher than white American women in five years. These occurrence differences can be attributed to both later stages of diagnosis and poorer stages for species survival. The high mortality rate among breast cancer patients is linked to a lack of health insurance. Moreover, most breast cancer patients with low incomes are more likely to be detected with advanced stage of the disease and to have five-year relative survival than higher-income patients. For instance, low-income African American women were found to experience lower survival rates than higher-income African American women. Other causes of the disparities include; the presence of additional ailments, depressed economic and social status, inequitable access to Medicare, and differences in treatment. This contributes to the disparities observed in survival between lower and higher-income breast cancer patients (Keene, 25).
There is some evidence that breast cancer patients get better care from female doctors than male doctors. The potential predictors of effective doctor-to-patient communication about screening are the characteristics of the patients such as; race, health insurance status, age, and the characteristics of the doctor. The impact of the characteristics of the doctor on communication is significant. The match of the doctor to the patient’s gender has indicated the preventive service in the office. The resulting conclusions made were that female physicians seemed to be better communicators. However, it remained unclear about the effects if any, of communication on health status. There are different kinds of social and emotional issues that arise after treatment of breast cancer such as emotional distress, fatigue, pain, an insult to the patient’s body image and self-esteem. This self-esteem is caused by the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. It damages the patient’s sexual functioning, even among people who had a satisfying relationship before the disease. Lastly, there are some resources available to assist women suffering from breast cancer through the challenges. Several of these resource programs are provided by the American Cancer Society for breast cancer patients and their families. These are: one, Reach to Recovery program where survivors of breast cancer are involved in supporting and informing those who are sick on how to cope with the disease. Specially trained survivors work as volunteers where they assist in talking with sufferers about diagnosis, treatment, reoccurrence, or recovery; two, I Can Cope program where patients and their families learn how to navigate through breast cancer experience while building their knowledge, coping skills, and positive attitude; three, Look Good…Feel Better program where women in active cancer treatment learn ways to restore their self-image and cope with side effects related to appearance. Tips and makeup are provided for by professionals in this program; four, the Tender Loving Care program offers support to breast cancer women dealing with hair loss and other effects that arise from cancer treatment. A wide variety of products such as wigs, hats, and others are offered by the Magalog; five, Hope and Lodge services (National Cancer Institute).
In conclusion, the study deduced the following: breast cancer is predominant in the specific racial or ethnic groups is common among women of higher economic status, and once diagnosed breast cancer affects the quality of health care offered.
Ganz. Breast Cancer Survivor: Psychological Concerns of Quality Life. Breast Cancer Res Treat, 1996
Kosary, Ries, & Eisner. Seer Cancer Statistics Review. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, 2003
Keene, N. Working with Your Doctor: Getting the Health Care you Deserve. California: Oreille and Associates, 2000.
McGinn, K. Women Cancers: How to Prevent them, How to Treat them, How to Beat them. California: Hunter House Publishers, 2003.
Surveillance Research Program. National Cancer Institute.