The Pathophysiology of Breast Cancer

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Knowing the pathophysiology of breast cancer is important. Breast cancer is a very popular disease in women and is also apparent in men. As a nurse it’s important to know what causes breast cancer, the signs and symptoms of this cancer, different treatment options and risk factors. It’s also important to know preventative measures in order for the nurse to educate the patient on what to do in order to prevent this disease. It is also important to know the morbidity and mortality of this disease. The nurse should make it her goal in order to decrease this number by teaching good preventative measures. Breast cancers are derived from the epithelial cells that line the terminal duct lobular unit, which forms part of the milk duct. Breast cancer cells remain in the basement membrane and are known as in situ or non invasive. Invasive breast cancer is when when the cancer cells spread outside of the basement membrane of the ducts and lobules, moving their way into the surrounding tissues (McCready 2004)

Over 41,000 women in the Uk are diagnosed with breast cancer every year (McCready 2004.) The morbidity of the disease is breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, with an estimated 39,600 deaths in 2002. (Ridner 2002) The etiology of breast cancer is unknown. There 11 different types of normal cell tissues after a study of 3,157 human breast tumors each of the tumors were similar to 1 of the 11 normal cell types. This means that each breast cancer cell is different and each one isn’t an exact copy of the normal breast tissue. Since there isn’t a clear understand of the origin of breast cancer there has yet to come to a conscious answer of how many types of breast cancer there are. (Santagata, S., Thakkar, A., Ergonul, A., Wang, B., Woo, T., Hu, R., Harrell,C., McNamara,G., Schwede,M., Culhane,A., Kindelberger,D., Rodig,S., Richardson,A., Schnitt, S., Tamimi, R.M., Ince, T. A. 2014)

Some risk factors that that can’t be changed for breast cancer are being a white woman who is in the post menopausal age group which is roughly 45 and older. Another risk is if a woman started to have periods before the age of 11 and have menopause before the age 45. These patients are twice more likely to get breast cancer because they are exposed to the hormone earlier. Also the age the patient had her first child matters as well if the patient has the first child at 35 is at higher risk than a women who has a child at 20. The reason why that this is a huge risk factor is because having these at these particular times exposes the female body to more hormones than they are normally exposed to during that time. Also it is estimated that 35 percent of women in the UK that gets the cancer develop a second disease. The reproductive history play a big factor. For example 5-10 percent of women in western countries get cancer genetically and chance increases if the person had breast cancer before the age of 50.

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