Breast Cancer, the term only gives shivers in back bone of the listener and the word most women don't want to hear. Breast Cancer refers to growth of Cancer tissue in the Mammary gland. Both male and female are prone for Breast Cancer, but the rate of occurrence of Breast Cancer is higher in females than males. Most common form of Breast Cancer initiates in the ducts called Mammary Ductal Carcinoma. In the initial stages of Breast Cancer called non invasive where the cancer cells are present in the same place of origin and later stages are called invasive type, where the cancer cells are invaded to neighboring tissues of mammary gland and also spread (metastasis) to other tissues of the body. Breast Cancer cells are responsive to different hormones based on the kind of receptors they express. Few patients are more responsive to Estrogen as the cells expresses more Estrogen receptor molecules and these patients are classified as Estrogen receptor positive Breast Cancer. HER2 or ERBB2 is one of the most studied molecules in Breast Cancer as most of the Breast Cancer cells express HER2. HER2 is studied for its direct effect in Cancer cells growth and proliferation. Most of the commercial drugs are targeted towards HER2 to block it functions.
Breast Cancer occurrence increases with the age of individuals. The older females have higher risk than the younger females. Breast Cancer also occurs due to hereditary reasons, individuals have higher risk if one of the family member has Breast Cancer. Mutation of certain genes also leads to the development of Breast Cancer. BRAC1, BRAC2, ELF5, ATM, etc are found to be associated with regulation of Breast Cancer. Other factors that might cause Breast Cancer are no child birth, not properly Breast feeding infants for long duration, hormone therapy, radiation treatment, alcohol drinking, smoking, food, life style habits, etc.
Breast Cancer in initial stages are without any symptoms and routine breast check up for lumps or change of breast skin color or fluid from the nipple should be tested for Breast cancer presence. Breast Cancer in advanced stages results in weight loss, Breast pain and other secondary symptoms and might leads to death of patients. The treatment for Breast Cancer depends on the stage and type of the cancer tissue. The routine methods applied in treatment of Breast Cancer varies from patient to patient and includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery to remove cancer tissue in initial stages, hormone therapy and removal of breast tissue (mastectomy). Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved nearly 53 drugs for treatment of Breast Cancer. The most common drugs used in hormone therapy are tamoxifen for Estrogen receptor positive cancer cells and Herceptin for ERBB2/HER2 positive cancer cells. The number of approved drug by FDA for treatment of Breast Cancer shows the importance of Breast Cancer as nearly 1/16th of world population is at the risk of development of Breast Cancer.
Lactation has beneficiary role for women and recent studies have shown that the genes involved in lactation pathways inhibits Breast Cancer development. ELF5, a transcription factor that is involved in regulating many genes in lactation pathway is shown to act as a tumor suppressor and inhibit cancer development in mammary epithelial cells. ELF5 is known to suppress another transcription factor SNAIL2 which promotes tumor metastasis. Further it has been shown that ATM kinase phosphorylates SNAIL at serine 100 resulting stabilization of SNAIL. The phosphorylation of SNAIL at Serine 100 results in the transcription activation of SNAIL leading to tumor invasion and metastasis. The balance between ELF5 to SNAIL genes decides the fate of epithelial cells whether to be normal or tumor cells.
Research on Breast Cancer has developed many drugs and improved surgery treatments for curing the cancer. Prevention of Breast Cancer is the best way and early diagnosis will results in complete cure of cancer. Eating healthy food and changing life styles will highly reduce the Breast Cancer risk. Healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, less use of processed and stored food; less alcohol consumption; giving birth to child in early age; breast feeding of infants for long duration (at least for a year) etc., will significantly reduce the risk of Breast Cancer in women.
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An enthuiastic author from India