Friday, July 30, 2021

Literatus: Metastatic breast cancer’s five ‘targets’


SPREADING (metastatic) breast cancer targets specific organs when it leaves the breast. There are five such target organs so far known.

The first target are the lymph nodes. These are inevitable targets for metastatic breast cancers because lymph nodes are guardians of the body’s disinfection system. Cancer cells spreading through the blood inevitably passes through the lymph nodes. Thus, the battle between the body’s immune system and the cancer cells continues in the lymph nodes. To spread to other parts of the body, the cancer cells must defeat the lymph nodes first.

The second target is the liver. All blood passes through the liver. Therefore, cancer cells in the blood reach the liver. Since it is our body’s premier detoxification organ, the liver may try to combat the cancer cells and must be overwhelmed. If the cancer cells had spread into the liver, the symptom to watch out for is stomach ache. Often the pain refuses to leave. In the absence of pain, discomfort can be experienced as bloating or feeling full. Yellowing of the skin will be noticed. Loss of appetite and weight may be observed, too.

The third target are the bones. That means any bone. Bones, particularly the marrows, are the primary sources of blood cells. When the cancer cells have spread into the bones, pain is the first common symptom to notice. Sometimes, the infection can weaken the bones so much that they can break. A feeling of numbness in the arm or leg may also occur.

The fourth target are the lungs. When it spreads into the lungs, it can lodge into the spaces surrounding the lungs and enclosed in the cell wall. Shortness of breath is expected with a persistent cough and chest pain. Weight loss can also result due to loss of appetite.

The fifth target is the brain, but not always, though. However, when cancer cells reach the brain, headaches and dizziness are expected to occur. Behavioral changes, confusion, and even seizures may be observed.

Early detection, of course, increases the chance for remission and healing. Self-awareness of our body helps in detecting early signs of breast cancer.

There is nothing to fear though. Only the strong are given the burden of the strong. Cancer can be a heavy burden. However, it is a burden that God allows. Thus, this burden reveals the fact that life is temporary and yet can be long.


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