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HomeFeatureA Family’s dilemma : BREAST CANCER, Its Causes, Prevention, and Cure? (Part...

A Family’s dilemma : BREAST CANCER, Its Causes, Prevention, and Cure? (Part 2)

By ALLAN MARIO MEDIANTE

Personal history of breast cancer or certain non-cancerous breast diseases.
Susan J. Komen, a cancer care specialist found out that “Women who’ve had breast
cancer in the past have a higher risk of getting a new breast cancer than women who’ve never had breast cancer Family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

The NIH National Library of Medicine (USA) says that “A family history of breast cancer
has been associated with increased ovarian cancer risk. However, few studies have assessed risk according to characteristics that suggest an inherited cancer susceptibility disorder, such as earlier-than-usual age at cancer diagnosis, family members with double primary cancers of different types, multiple relatives with cancer, and cancer in both members of paired organs.”

People with a family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer have an increased risk of
breast cancer. The increased risk is likely due to genetic factors but may also be due to shared lifestyle factors or other family traits. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease.

Komen added that in her further findings, about 15% of women diagnosed with breast
cancer have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) who’s also had it. A
woman who has a first-degree female relative with breast cancer has about twice the risk of a woman without this family history. If she has more than one first-degree female relative with a history of breast cancer, her risk is about 2-4 times higher. In general, the younger the relative was when she was diagnosed, the greater a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

“For example, a woman whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40 has
about twice the risk of a woman without this family history. For a woman whose mother was diagnosed at an older age, the increase in risk isn’t as high,” she added.
Previous treatment using radiation therapy. The Mayo Clinic (USA) explains in an
Internet post that “Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy most often uses X-rays.

Also, other types of radiation therapy exist, including proton radiation.

Modern methods of radiation are precise. They aim beams directly at the cancer while
protecting healthy tissues from high doses of radiation. Radiation therapy can be given inside or outside of your body.

Radiation treatment that goes inside the body is called brachytherapy. It is also a common
cancer treatment. In this therapy, a provider places a small solid implant in or near the cancer of the patient. Radiation therapy damages cells by destroying their genetic material. Genetic material controls how cells grow and divide. Healthy cells may be damaged along with cancer cells during radiation therapy. But healthy cells can repair themselves more easily than cancer cells.

The goal of the radiation therapy is to treat the cancer while harming as few healthy cells as
possible, according to the Mayo Clinic report.

It added that certain medical procedures that use radiation, such as X-rays and CT scans,
may slightly increase your risk of developing breast cancer. If you had radiotherapy to your
chest area for Hodgkin lymphoma you should make immediate consultation with a specialist to discuss your increased risk of developing breast cancer.

An aunt of mine who died of last stage breast cancer in 1970, has undergone radiation
therapy and chemotherapy, but to no avail. (Maybe due also to old age). Use of Contraceptive Pill – Research shows that women who take the contraceptive pill have a slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer. However, the risk starts to decrease once
you stop taking the pill, and your risk of breast cancer is back to normal 10 years after stopping.

(Cancer Research UK)
Victims See Other Causes of Breast Cancer.
Maam Maggie who has already completed radiation therapy and is presently continuing her
chemotherapy sessions, says she felt fine with the treatments. She is however, only 40 years old.

  1. Depression.

It could have played a major role when she contracted breast cancer, according to Maam
Maggie. “I was suffering from it because my philandering husband left me. Since that day on, I was always feeling depressed due to the burdens of raising a family alone. Maybe that’s how my breast cancer started, but I have to fight.” Other than that, she said she also believe that eating unhealthy food (frozen foods with artificial flavor; junk food, and consumption of
alcoholic drinks can cause breast cancer.”

“Depression and old age could have also caused the last stage breast cancer of my patient,”
according to Mrs. Anabel Ade, a health worker and care-giver . In an interview with this writer, she said that her 72 year old neighbor in Barangay Igpit, Opol, Misamis Oriental, died of breast cancer recently.

Mrs. Ade said she was requested early this year, by the victim’s family (brothers and
sisters), to take care of the 72 year old patient. The only child of the victim is 11 years old,
whose father (her first husband) abandoned them. His second live-in partner, a Bilaan (native) of Bukidnon. Also left her when she became ill with breast cancer.

Mrs. Ade said that her patient divulged to her the great depression she suffered when she
learned that her husband has illicit relation with another woman. The philandering husband
even brought the mistress to their own house, she was told. Her brothers and sisters got so
angry and “threw” the husband out of the house. The husband did not bother to come back and eventually abandoned the victim and the child.

When the separation took place, her patient went to their hometown in Lantapan, Bukidnon.
That’s where she met her second man – a live-in partner. Her partner told her that she could be his second wife. (Under the tribal law and cultural tradition of Bilaans (Manobo) a man could have two wives (“Duay” in Bukidnon dialect). So she consented and accepted the proposal of her live-in partner. However she learned that many of the man’s famly and relatives are against their relationship. The victim told Mrs. Ade that she can clearly “see and hear” the hatred harbored by her lover’s relatives. The situation added much to her suffering and depression. So she went back home to Igpit, Opol, Misamis Oriental.

The victim narrated more details, according to Mrs. Ade: Her Bilaan lover followed suit and
lived with her in their Igpit house, but when she fell ill with breast cancer, the man left her
instead of taking care of her.

Refusing medical examination. Mrs. Ade said that her patient’s brothers and sisters
requested her to submit to a medical examination because her affected breast became a deep wound and emitted a bad smell. She refused and again told them that she will just take herbal medicines.

“A month before she died, she fell seriously ill and she requested to be brought to the
hospital.” According to Mrs. Ade, who continued to be the care-giver during the victim’s
confinement, “she again refused to undergo mastectomy (removal of the breast by surgical
operation). She requested the physicians to just inject her with antibiotics.” Mrs. Ade said that
her patient’s condition worsened because her breast wound already produced worms. The
doctors told her to just go home because she refused a breast removal operation.

At this point, Mrs. Ade said that the victim told her the worms in her breast wound could be
a sign that she was spiritually maligned by the Manobo family of her live-in partner. She said
that she believes in “Gidaotan” – a Cebuano term of the harm inflected to a person thru evil
spiritual rituals. The worms in her breast did not disappear even until her patient’s death, a
month after staying home again, Mrs. Ade concluded.
. 2. Unhealthy Lifestyle – could be among the causes of breast cancer. Severe and
addictive cigarette smoking, excessive drinking of hard liquor and other alcoholic drinks and
abnormal sex practices, are among the perceived causes of breast cancer, according to some interviewees.

Cleveland Clinic (USA) officially commented that some of the causes of developing
breast are smoking, alcohol and obesity. Smoking. Tobacco use has been linked to many different types of cancer, including breast cancer.

Alcohol use. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of getting breast cancer. People who drink
even small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis have a greater risk of getting breast cancer
than people who do not drink alcohol at all.

Obesity due to overeating. Having obesity can increase your risk of breast cancer and
breast cancer recurrence.” If you have experienced the menopause and are overweight or
obese, you may be more at risk of developing breast cancer. This is thought to be linked to the amount of oestrogen in your body, as being overweight or obese after the menopause causes more oestrogen to be produced” the Cleveland Clinic said.

Can Cancer be Prevented?
A physician cousin of mine (Dr. Lourdes M. Camomot) opined that the causes of breast
cancer are not fully understood, making it difficult, even among physicians, to say why one
woman may develop breast cancer and another may not.
However, there is a lot of good news about breast cancer these days according to . Siteman
Cancer Center (U.S).

“Siteman Cancer Center at BTreatments says “we know more than ever about ways to
prevent the disease.” These simple steps can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Not every
one applies to every woman, but as a whole, they can have a big impact:
Siteman offers the following reminders:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone. Being
    overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially
    after menopause.
  • Regular Exercise. Exercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is.
    Women who exercise for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular
    exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.
  • Eat Fruits and Vegetables – and Limit or Stop Drinking . A healthy diet can help lower
    the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and veggies and limit alcohol. Even low levels
    of drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer. However, not drinking alcohol is the overall
    best choice for your health.
  • No Cigarette Smoking. On top of its many other health risks, smoking causes at least 15
    different cancers – including breast cancer. If you smoke, try to quit as soon as possible. It’s
    almost never too late to get benefits.
    = Breastfeed, If Possible. Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all
    children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child. For
    breastfeeding information or support, contact your pediatrician, hospital or local health
    department.
  • Avoid Birth Control Pills, Particularly After Age 35 or If You Smoke. Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. But long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian, colon and uterine cancers. Birth control pills also prevent unwanted pregnancy, so there’s also a lot in their favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower the risk.

(This story is published with the support of the Philippine Press Institute, Novartis and ICanServe Foundation)

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