Essay by ChasityCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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In the United States in 2004 alone, an estimated 43,700 people will die from breast cancer. It is the number two cancer killer among females ages 15 to 54. On average if a woman gets this disease, their life expectancy drops drastically. This cancer is within the top three cancers of all women above the age of 15, and comprises a great amount of all health care costs in the U.S. totaling an astounding 37 billion a year in direct medical costs. An average woman is said to have a one in nine chance of getting the cancer, but if that person has family history of the disease, his or her chances have been measured up to a one in six chance. Sixty-nine percent of African-American and fourty-four white women survive from it, and there are predicted to be nearly two million new cases reported this year in the U.S.

(Breast Cancer Key Statistics).

Breast cancer is a group of rapidly reproducing, undifferentiated cells in the area of the breast in men and women. The earliest changes occur in the epithelial cells of the terminal end buds (TEB) of the breast milk ductal system. While the progressive steps of breast cancer are unknown, the cells in the breast trigger a reaction of cell reproduction. These new cancer cells form tumors. If cancer cells are active or are considered malign, the tumor grows at tremendous speeds, and may end up in metastasis. Metastasis is a complex process in which cells break away from their primary tumors, and via the blood supply or through the lymph system relocate into other organs, thus spreading cancer throughout the body. Generally, if a lump is smaller than one centimeter, it is considered benign, although every woman should consult her doctor about any unusual bumps or...