Breast Cancer

The Night by Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio (1555), believed to be the first depiction of breast cancer in art. Authored by Maria Sampani October is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, stressing out the importance of early detection and proper treatment. What is breast cancer? Breast cancer is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells form in the breast tissues. Most types of cancer cells eventually form a lump or mass called a tumor, and are named after the part of the body where the tumor originates, as well as the type of cell. There are two types of (original) breast cancer: the ductal carcinoma, which is more common, and the lobular carcinoma. In the ductal carcinoma, the cancer begins in the lining of milk ducts, while in the lobular it begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Invasive breast cancer occurs when the cancer has spread from the initial points (milk ducts or lobules) to surrounding normal tissue. Breast cancer affects both men and women, in a ratio of 1:150. Breast cancer facts Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall. There are 2 million new cases in 2018 and approximately 460,000 deaths from breast cancer each year. It affects 1 in every 8 women, and 1 in every 1,000 men. In the US, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer. Early detection is the cornerstone of breast cancer control, increasing tremendously the chances of survival. Anatomy of the breasts The breast consists of Mammary (Milk) glands (lobules) that produce and supply milk. Milk ducts that transfer milk from the lobules to the nipple. Nipple. Areola (pink/brown pigment surrounding the nipple). Adipose tissue. Connective tissue. The female adult breast is composed of 15-20 lobes, which are made up of many smaller lobules and surround the nipple in a radial manner. Lymph nodes are located in the…

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Gender Bias in Medicine

Hypnotic Seance by Richard Bergh, 1887 Authored By Rania Jardak On our second class of Ethics, here at the university of Pavia, we have been told: “In medicine, there are no cause-effect; there are causes AND effects”. I invite you to think about the causes and effects of every cell function and its physiological manifestation - but I also invite you to think about the causes AND effects of every diagnosis, of every medical assumption, of every waiting room attitude. I extend my invitation further to also think about how the causes AND effects of a same nature or expression affect for different groups of people. We must be able not only to apply our knowledge onto different patients, but we must be able to be critical about the very application itself. Our lifelong exposure to ideas stored as biased information serves as a reservoir for our unconscious processes. This tends to be translated into biased attitudes and reactions when we are not actively being consciously unbiased. Ceding to bias is an “human trait”, one that would be exhausting to eliminate from our every thought process, but a trait that can cause harm when you know just enough science and that you are culturally being attributed just enough authority to have the power to influence another being’s health - such as when you are a healthcare provider. Now let us be clear - medical professionals have the best interest of the patient, all patients, in mind. This may however not suffice to beat biases that are inherited from higher levels (historical, institutional, societal, academical) of the medical field.Bias occurs in medicine not by deliberate malpractice or by lack of good will, but it occurs due to broader socio-political stratification of society in relation to gender, race, age and other variables that, in the most fortunate of situations, provide clues and context to explain a pathological manifestation but that may, more often than wished for, blur the true origin of…

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