Essay on Breast Cancer Treatment

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Breast Cancer Treatment

     Only lung cancer kills more women each year in the United States than breast cancer does. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that over
184,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in women in 1996 (ACS Breast).
Although these statistics are alarming, there are a number of treatment options available for those that are diagnosed with breast cancer.
     The best way to treat any disease is to prevent it. Since little is known about breast cancer, there are no established rules for prevention. The
ACS recommends that women age twenty and older perform monthly breast self-exams, and it also suggests clinical examinations every three years (ACS
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     Radiation therapy is another common treatment for breast cancer.
Radiation involves the use of high-energy x-rays to damage cancer cells and retard further growth. The radiation may come from a radioactive source outside the body, or it can come from radioactive pellets placed directly in the breasts.
It is not uncommon for a patient to receive both internal and external radiation. For external radiation, patients must visit the hospital or clinic each day. When this regimen follows breast-sparing surgery, the treatments are given five days a week for five to six weeks. At the end of that time, an extra
“boost” of radiation is often given to the place where the tumor was removed.
Hospital stays are required for implant radiation. Some common side effects of radiation therapy include swelling of the breast and dry skin at the radiation site.      Chemotherapy is one of the systemic therapies doctors use to fight breast cancer. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells, and it usually involves a combination of those drugs. Traditional chemotherapy is administered in cycles; a treatment period followed by a recovery period, then another treatment, and so on (NIH 23). Like radiation therapy, chemotherapy can be administered on an outpatient basis. Although chemotherapy works to kill cancer cells, some of the side effects almost make treatment
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