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Breast Cancer

Introduction

Breast cancer is known as a common type of cancer in the United States. It should be noted that the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50 and above (Klauber-DeMore, 2006). However, young females also get breast cancer. If detected early in its infancy, it is possible to recover from this disease. At least one in eight women is affected by breast cancer. Some of its risks factors associated with this disease are age, genes, and personal attributes. Other challenges include taking birth control pills, obesity, having dense breasts, and hormone replacement therapy among others. Some of the breast cancer signs include the changes in the size and shape of the breast, a lump in it, and discharge that comes from the nipple. Mammography and breast self-exams help detecting this disease early thus making it easy to treat. A possible treatment for breast cancer is surgery. Other ones include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and target therapy. Men as well can have breast cancer, though in rare cases.

 

Negative Influence of Breast Cancer on Health Outcomes

Negative influences of breast cancer have adverse effects on health outcomes. This disease and its treatments make numerous changes in the individuals’ daily lives. For instance, a shift in the body appearances can occur. After multiple surgeries, the body will be left with some scars. An example of a negative outcome of breast cancer is the loss of hair during a chemotherapy process. It is as well possible. Other individuals can have other outcomes during and even after the treatment (Wheeler et al., 2013).

However, the effects of treatment are said to be temporary, they can be upsetting. They also impact on the way how people view their bodies. Another adverse effect is lymphoedema, which is the swelling of an arm or the area affected by the building up of lymph fluid on body tissues. Lymphoedema affects a person both emotionally and physically. It makes people experience different changes in their bodies. Cancer treatment can also cause second chances for other types of this disease. For instance, radiation therapy and chemotherapy increase an individual’s risk of developing another cancer later in life. The last effect is anemia. It is the shortage of red blood cells in one’s blood. These cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Thus, having fewer blood cells results in a feeling of tiredness and weakness and also leads to a shortage of breath.

Economic Healthcare Costs Associated with Breast Cancer

The economic and financial costs associated with cancer are relatively high for both a cancer patient and the society. Some examples of healthcare direct expenditures in treating breast cancers include doctor appointment, ER visits, prescription drugs, hospitalizations, and travelling when seeking for treating. Evidently, the American Cancer Society approximates the total costs for this disease in the year 2011 in the US to nearly $88.7 billion (2015). Notably, 11% of the cost is mainly related to prescription drugs. On the other hand, 35% is for inpatient hospital stays whereas 50% includes doctor office visits and hospital outpatients (American Cancer Society, 2015). The treatment of cancer is expensive. However, the lacks of health insurance, as well as other barriers to health care, are preventing a big number of Americans from accessing an optimal treatment. In the year 2012, approximately 10% of kids in the US lacked insurance coverage (American Cancer Society, 2015). Unfortunately, the individuals from ethnic minorities and uninsured patients are most likely to be diagnosed with cancer at the last stage that is being critical. It is at this juncture when treatment becomes more costly, extensive, and even less successful.

In the year 2015, about 589,430 residents in the US were expected to die from cancer (National Cancer Institute, 2011). Notably, the disease is considered the second common cause of many deaths in the United States. Treating cancer costs billions of dollars. Further, it is also worth individuals their loved ones. Therefore, reducing barriers related to cancer is important in the fight to eradicate death and sufferings due to it. Due to an increase of the aging population in the US, in the year 2020, the medical expenses for this disease are approximated to reach $158 billion (National Cancer Institute, 2011). As a matter of fact, it is an increase of nearly 27% over 2010. It is important to keep in mind that if the newly developed tools made for cancer treatment, follow-up, and diagnosis continue to be more expensive, then the medical expenditures for it will amount probably to as high as $207 billion (National Cancer Institute, 2011). Thus, the costs for breast cancer treatment are pulling economies downwards.

Existing Interventions that Address Breast Cancer

Several interventions have been implemented to address breast cancer. One of them is its early detection. Notably, self-examination is one of the best ways to notice the disease if there are any unusual occurrences in the body. When carrying out the self-breast examination, it is important to view any unusual markings or events keenly. Self-exams show pre-cancer possibilities. If people are keen and could take the time to listen to their bodies, they will get a clue on what is happening in their organisms. Individuals with breast implants, those breastfeeding or pregnant and those persons in their menopause should conduct a self-examination on a monthly basis. When detected early, breast cancer can be stopped (Masi et al., 2007). Once an individual has cancer, it can be late to start early detection. Breast self-exams ought to be done monthly. Therefore, if a doctor suggests a patient to have a mammogram, it is significant. However, the mammogram should be done upon a doctor’s request.

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Screening is another critical intervention for breast cancer. Mammography has been considered as the most efficient method for screening this disease (Coughlin, 2014). The research shows that population-organized mammography screening programs reduce that breast cancer mortality rates by 20% between the screened and unscreened groups. As a matter of fact, mammography screening is costly. However, it does not help in preventing cancer, but it can detect it at an early stage when it is treatable. Regular mammograms begin at the age of 40 for most people. It is important that doctors address the risks and benefits of mammography at different ages.

Finding out the individual’s family history is another intervention for breast cancer. Women who belong to families with a background of this disease ought to take special steps in protecting themselves. Therefore, it is important for women to be aware of their family history. For those ones whom their mothers or sisters developed ovarian or breast cancer at an early age, they are at high risks of the disease. A genetic counselor or a doctor can help individuals understand their family history of breast cancer.

Cost-Effectiveness of the Breast Cancer Interventions

In Australia, it is estimated that one in every eleven females is likely to develop breast cancer. In the year 2001, approximately 11,791 individuals were diagnosed with the new cases of this disease (Zelle et al., 2012). The most killer sickness in Australia is breast cancer. Detecting it early is significant and treating the disease at an early stage helps fight it. Mammographic screening for women between the ages of 50-69 years reduces premature deaths by 25% (Zelle et al., 2012). Biennial mammographic X-ray screening for females within 40-49 years reduces premature cancer deaths by 15%. If 10,000 women between the ages of 40-49, and others aged 60 to 69 years went through mammographic screening in every two years, the cases of invasive breast cancer would add up to 169 new incidences (Zelle et al., 2012). Therefore, within a period ten years, 40 deaths resulting from the disease will be prevented.

The approximate costs screening, recruitment and diagnostic assessment for 10,000 women between the ages of 50-59 would be $9.7 million (Zelle et al., 2013). Notably, this amount is on top of what has been already spent on the treatment of breast cancer. However, the figure indicated is not inclusive of possible cost savings as a result of a less invasive treatment for women being at their early stage of this disease. The process of screening women of 50-69 years in every two years is cost effective since it is worth $23,000 per each life saved (Zelle et al., 2013). On the other hand, screening females between the ages of 40-49 years in every two years, the cost ranges from $34,000 to $56,400 per life. However, the upper end of the variations is not considered viable (Zelle et al., 2013). The most cost-effective and cost beneficial interventions are screening, as well as the diagnostic and recruitment assessment. They do not require high costs unlike mammogram screening.

Recommendations to Policy Makers to Alleviate Breast Cancer

To a large extent, breast cancer is avoidable and other its types as well. On the other hand, others can be detected as early as they develop. Therefore, they can easily be treated and cured. Policy makers advocate for the prevention of this deadly sickness. An early detection and watching on weight is highly recommendable. Being overweight increases the risks for breast cancer. As a matter of fact, it is common after menopause since it is at this time when most of the estrogen is produced from the fat tissue (Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, 2011). Thus, having more fat tissue increases the chances of getting this disease. Most women who are overweight have high levels of insulin. Being physically active helps an individual in maintaining a healthy weight. Thus, in turn, it helps reduce the cases of breast cancer.

Breast feeding is also recommendable since it alleviates the disease. Therefore, the longer an individual breastfeeds, the longer she protects her from the breast cancer. People should also avoid exposure to environmental pollution and radiation (Saxton et al., 2010). Medical imaging methods use high amounts of radiation. Numerous studies show a link between radiation exposure and breast cancer. Therefore, it is necessary to decrease exposing by making sure that such tests are only done when necessary.

Overall, it is evident that breast cancer leads to many deaths amongst women globally. Treating cancer is very costly thus affecting the country’s economy. Besides, the interventions possible for this disease such as its early detection and screening just to mention a few ones that are expensive too. Being physically active, controlling body weight, and avoiding exposure to radiation are some of the recommendations that help curb breast cancer. One should always keep in mind that cancer is avoidable.

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