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Breast cancer treatment takes a physical and mental toll

This year, more than 235,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The vast majority of these cases, some 232,670, will affect women. Additionally, annually an estimated 40,000 women in the U.S. die from breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and provides a good opportunity for every woman to become more informed about breast cancer and its causes, possible symptoms and treatment options.

Like any type of cancer, breast cancer may develop when there is a disruption in normal cellular growth. When this occurs, cell growth in the breast tissues is accelerated and cells replicate at a much faster rate. In cases where these cells develop into cancer, the cancerous cells are able to invade healthy bodily tissues and replicate forming a cancerous mass or tumor. In other cases, cancerous cells travel through the bloodstream or lymph system and invade other organs or parts of the body.

Upon being diagnosed with breast cancer, an individual is likely to feel scared and overwhelmed. Thankfully, in many cases women and men who are diagnosed with breast cancer are able to receive effective treatment and go on to live normal and fulfilling lives. Early detection and diagnosis is key to improving an individual's chances of effectively treating breast cancer.

From a young age, women are encouraged to perform self-breast exams. In many cases, a woman may notice a lump or tender spot in her breast. In other cases, breast cancer is diagnosed after a woman undergoes a mammogram.

Common treatment options for breast cancer include radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. Treatment of breast cancer depends largely on whether or not the cancer has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body. In many cases, combinations of treatment methods are used.

Any diagnosis of a major medical condition or disease is highly disruptive to an individual's life. For women and men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it's critical to take swift action and start treatment as soon as possible. The time and side effects associated with cancer treatments often prevent an individual from returning to work. Individuals diagnosed with breast cancer may, therefore, qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Source: American Cancer Society, "Breast Cancer," 2014

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