Most women agree that the most important part of their body are her breasts. A woman’s breast is perhaps the body part most written about in books, magazines, poems, and other literature. Aside from the obvious physiological importance of the mammary glands, a woman’s breast also symbolizes all that is romantic and sensual in the female figure. Needless to say, these glands are the usual subjects of male desires and fantasies.
But the meaning and significance of having breasts actually go beyond the mere symbolism or actual focus of sensuality. A woman’s breast nurtures the life of an infant, producing the precious milk that can influence the life-long health of a child. Mother’s milk contains a balanced mix of essential nutrients and protects the infant against common childhood illnesses and infections. As the ideal baby food, mother’s milk is considered irreplaceable. Not even the most expensive milk formula can take the place or exceed mother’s milk in terms of nutritional value. Pediatric health research conducted in different parts of the world all point out one incontrovertible fact — mother’s milk is still best for babies.
But there is another side to the volumes of literature about a woman’s breast. There is another story that needs to be told aside from the current advocacy on mother’s milk. This story is about the tragic fact that
millions of women are being diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, almost 1.5 million women will be diagnosed with the disease in 2007. At least 10.5 million patients were found to have breast cancer since 2003. For many women, these facts are not just statistics. These are realities that need to face and survive each day. Just imagine the fear and terror of knowing for the first time that have the “Big C.” What if you were newly married or had just given birth to your first child? A cancer diagnosis, especially related to one’s breasts, is one of the most dreaded news known to women the world over.
What is even more devastating is the fact that the said disease has another variant or a more serious condition known as inflammatory breast cancer. Inflammation of the breasts due to cancer is marked by capillary dilation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat, and pain. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare cancer that gets its name based on the appearance of the skin on the breast. It is considered an aggressive, advanced type of carcinoma.
On a positive note, this type of cancer strikes only a very small percentage of women. It is also true that, on very rare occasions, some men have been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Treatment options are also available including the procedures usually undertaken to treat what may now be termed as the “common” or “usual” breast cancer. Patients who are still in the early stages of breast cancer may opt to take anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications help control the inflammation of the breast or may even prevent the growth of cancer cells. In a study released by the Women’s Health Initiative in 2003, it was revealed that the regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs may help lower a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. The anti-inflammatory drugs relieve pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation but do not actually cure the disease that causes these symptoms. Certain anti-inflammatory drugs are doctor-prescribed.
Dealing with cancer is a very serious matter. It is best to seek medical advice as soon as you feel or see any of the signs. Your doctor must make a very careful examination to determine what type of treatment is appropriate for you, including the use of anti-inflammatory medication. One procedure that is commonly advised for patients or those who suspect the presence of cancer is to undergo breast biopsy. Usually, if a suspicious lump is detected, the doctor may ask the patient to use anti-inflammatory drugs to test whether the said growth will respond to a certain dose. Another recommendation for women above 40 to get an annual mammography.
The high mortality rate associated with breast cancer is serious enough to make cancer prevention a priority matter not only among women, but also for men. Through information, proper treatment, or appropriate medication, women around the world can still have hope of beating the “Big C.”