C.A.R.E. for a Cure’s mission is to help people who suffer from Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease by donating all profits from donating money toward research and development for cures, prevention and treatment of these terrible diseases.
What is Breast Cancer
The term “breast cancer” refers to a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Usually breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less commonly, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
- Is a progressive and fatal brain disease. As many as 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. For more information, see Warning Signs and Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Is the most common form of dementia, a general term for the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Vascular dementia, another common type of dementia, is caused by reduced blood flow to parts of the brain. In mixed dementia, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia occur together. For more information about other causes of dementia, please see Related Dementias.
- Has no current cure. But treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support, can make life better for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s. We’ve learned most of what we know about Alzheimer’s in the last 15 years. There is an accelerating worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, or prevent it from developing. Learn more about recent progress in Alzheimer science and research funded by the Alzheimer’s Association in the Research section.
What are the symptoms of Breast Cancer
Any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
- swelling of all or part of the breast
- skin irritation or dimpling
- breast pain
- nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- a nipple discharge other than breast milk
- a lump in the underarm area
These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. It’s important to get any breast changes checked out promptly by a doctor.
What are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Memory loss. Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.
- Difficulty performing familiar tasks. People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.
- Problems with language. People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find the toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for “that thing for my mouth.”
- Disorientation to time and place. People with Alzheimer’s disease can become lost in their own neighborhood, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
- Poor or decreased judgment. Those with Alzheimer’s may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. They may show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.
- Problems with abstract thinking. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used.
- Misplacing things. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
- Changes in mood or behavior. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
- Changes in personality. The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
- Loss of initiative. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.
What are the Stages of Breast Cancer?
Cancer cells remain inside the breast duct, without invasion into normal adjacent breast tissue.
Cancer is 2 centimeters or less and is confined to the breast (lymph nodes are clear).
No tumor can be found in the breast, but cancer cells are found in the axillary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under the arm) OR the tumor measures 2 centimeters or smaller and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes OR
the tumor is larger than 2 but no larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
The tumor is larger than 2 but no larger than 5 centimeters and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes OR the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.
No tumor is found in the breast. Cancer is found in axillary lymph nodes that are sticking together or to other structures, or cancer may be found in lymph nodes near the breastbone OR the tumor is any size. Cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, which are sticking together or to other structures, or cancer may be found in lymph nodes near the breastbone.
The tumor may be any size and has spread to the chest wall and/or skin of the breast AND may have spread to axillary lymph nodes that are clumped together or sticking to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone. Inflammatory breast cancer is considered at least stage IIIB.
There may either be no sign of cancer in the breast or a tumor may be any size and may have spread to the chest wall and/or the skin of the breast
AND the cancer has spread to lymph nodes either above or below the collarbone
AND the cancer may have spread to axillary lymph nodes or to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
The cancer has spread — or metastasized — to other parts of the body.
What are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?
- No impairment (normal function)
- Unimpaired individuals experience no memory problems and none are evident to a health care professional during a medical interview.
- Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease)
- Individuals may feel as if they have memory lapses, especially in forgetting familiar words or names or the location of keys, eyeglasses or other everyday objects. But these problems are not evident during a medical examination or apparent to friends, family or co-workers.
- Mild cognitive decline- Early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms
- Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice deficiencies. Problems with memory or concentration may be measurable in clinical testing or discernible during a detailed medical interview. Common difficulties include:
- Word- or name-finding problems noticeable to family or close associates
- Decreased ability to remember names when introduced to new people
- Performance issues in social or work settings noticeable to family, friends or co-workers
- Reading a passage and retaining little material
- Losing or misplacing a valuable object
- Decline in ability to plan or organize
- Moderate cognitive decline (Mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
- At this stage, a careful medical interview detects clear-cut deficiencies in the following areas:
- Decreased knowledge of recent occasions or current events
- Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic-for example, to count backward from 75 by 7s
- Decreased capacity to perform complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills and managing finances
- Reduced memory of personal history
- The affected individual may seem subdued and withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations
- Moderately severe cognitive decline (Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
- Major gaps in memory and deficits in cognitive function emerge. Some assistance with day-to-day activities becomes essential. At this stage, individuals may:
- Be unable during a medical interview to recall such important details as their current address, their telephone number or the name of the college or high school from which they graduated
- Become confused about where they are or about the date, day of the week or season
- Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic; for example, counting backward from 40 by 4s or from 20 by 2s
- Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
- Usually retain substantial knowledge about themselves and know their own name and the names of their spouse or children
- Usually require no assistance with eating or using the toilet
- Severe cognitive decline (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
- Memory difficulties continue to worsen, significant personality changes may emerge and affected individuals need extensive help with customary daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:
- Lose most awareness of recent experiences and events as well as of their surroundings
- Recollect their personal history imperfectly, although they generally recall their own name
- Occasionally forget the name of their spouse or primary caregiver but generally can distinguish familiar from unfamiliar faces
- Need help getting dressed properly; without supervision, may make such errors as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on wrong feet
- Experience disruption of their normal sleep/waking cycle
- Need help with handling details of toileting (flushing toilet, wiping and disposing of tissue properly)
- Have increasing episodes of urinary or fecal incontinence
- Experience significant personality changes and behavioral symptoms, including suspiciousness and delusions (for example, believing that their caregiver is an impostor); hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there); or compulsive, repetitive behaviors such as hand-wringing or tissue shredding
- Tend to wander and become lost
- Very severe cognitive decline (Severe or late-stage Alzheimer’s disease)
- This is the final stage of the disease when individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, the ability to speak and, ultimately, the ability to control movement.
- Frequently individuals lose their capacity for recognizable speech, although words or phrases may occasionally be uttered
- Individuals need help with eating and toileting and there is general incontinence of urine
- Individuals lose the ability to walk without assistance, then the ability to sit without support, the ability to smile, and the ability to hold their head up. Reflexes become abnormal and muscles grow rigid. Swallowing is impaired.
How do you know if you are at risk for getting Breast Cancer?
Risk factors you can control
Weight. Being overweight is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, especially for women after menopause. Fat tissue is the body’s main source of estrogen after menopause, when the ovaries stop producing the hormone. Having more fat tissue means having higher estrogen levels, which can increase breast cancer risk.
Diet. Diet is a suspected risk factor for many types of cancer, including breast cancer, but studies have yet to show for sure which types of foods increase risk. It’s a good idea to restrict sources of red meat and other animal fats (including dairy fat in cheese, milk, and ice cream), because they may contain hormones, other growth factors, antibiotics, and pesticides. Some researchers believe that eating too much cholesterol and other fats are risk factors for cancer, and studies show that eating a lot of red and/or processed meats is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. A low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables is generally recommended. For more information, visit our page on healthy eating to reduce cancer risk in the Nutrition section.
Exercise. Evidence is growing that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45-60 minutes of physical exercise 5 or more days a week.
Alcohol consumption. Studies have shown that breast cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol a woman drinks. Alcohol can limit your liver’s ability to control blood levels of the hormone estrogen, which in turn can increase risk.
Smoking. Smoking is associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk.
Exposure to estrogen. Because the female hormone estrogen stimulates breast cell growth, exposure to estrogen over long periods of time, without any breaks, can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some of these risk factors are under your control, such as:
- taking combined hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone; HRT) for several years or more, or taking estrogen alone for more than 10 years
- being overweight
- regularly drinking alcohol
Recent oral contraceptive use. Using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) appears to slightly increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer, but only for a limited period of time. Women who stopped using oral contraceptives more than 10 years ago do not appear to have any increased breast cancer risk.
Stress and anxiety. There is no clear proof that stress and anxiety can increase breast cancer risk. However, anything you can do to reduce your stress and to enhance your comfort, joy, and satisfaction can have a major effect on your quality of life. So-called “mindful measures” (such as meditation, yoga, visualization exercises, and prayer) may be valuable additions to your daily or weekly routine. Some research suggests that these practices can strengthen the immune system.
Risk factors you can’t control
Gender. Being a woman is the most significant risk factor for developing breast cancer. Although men can get breast cancer, too, women’s breast cells are constantly changing and growing, mainly due to the activity of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. This activity puts them at much greater risk for breast cancer.
Age. Simply growing older is the second biggest risk factor for breast cancer. From age 30 to 39, the risk is 1 in 233, or .43%. That jumps to 1 in 27, or almost 4%, by the time you are in your 60s.
Family history of breast cancer. If you have a first-degree relative (mother, daughter, sister) who has had breast cancer, or you have multiple relatives affected by breast or ovarian cancer (especially before they turned age 50), you could be at higher risk of getting breast cancer.
Personal history of breast cancer. If you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk of developing it again, either in the same breast or the other breast, is higher than if you never had the disease.
Race. White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African American women. Asian, Hispanic, and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
Radiation therapy to the chest. Having radiation therapy to the chest area as a child or young adult as treatment for another cancer significantly increases breast cancer risk. The increase in risk seems to be highest if the radiation was given while the breasts were still developing (during the teen years).
Breast cellular changes. Unusual changes in breast cells found during a breast biopsy (removal of suspicious tissue for examination under a microscope) can be a risk factor for developing breast cancer. These changes include overgrowth of cells (called hyperplasia) or abnormal (atypical) appearance.
Exposure to estrogen. Because the female hormone estrogen stimulates breast cell growth, exposure to estrogen over long periods of time, without any breaks, can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some of these risk factors are not under your control, such as:
- starting menstruation (monthly periods) at a young age (before age 12)
- going through menopause (end of monthly cycles) at a late age (after 55)
- exposure to estrogens in the environment (such as hormones in meat or pesticides such as DDT, which produce estrogen-like substances when broken down by the body)
Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce the overall number of menstrual cycles in a woman’s lifetime, and this appears to reduce future breast cancer risk. Women who have never had a full-term pregnancy, or had their first full-term pregnancy after age 30, have an increased risk of breast cancer. For women who do have children, breastfeeding may slightly lower their breast cancer risk, especially if they continue breastfeeding for 1 1/2 to 2 years. For many women, however, breastfeeding for this long is neither possible nor practical.
DES exposure. Women who took a medication called diethylstilbestrol (DES), used to prevent miscarriage from the 1940s through the 1960s, have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. Women whose mothers took DES during pregnancy may have a higher risk of breast cancer as well.
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Risk factors you can control
Head injury: There appears to be a strong link between serious head injury and future risk of Alzheimer’s. Protect your head by buckling your seat belt, wearing your helmet when participating in sports, and “fall-proofing” your home.
Heart-head connection: Some of the strongest evidence links brain health to heart health. Your brain is nourished by one of your body’s richest networks of blood vessels. Every heartbeat pumps about 20 to 25 percent of your blood to your head, where brain cells use at least 20 percent of the food and oxygen your blood carries.
The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol. Work with your doctor to monitor your heart health and treat any problems that arise.
General healthy aging: Other lines of evidence suggest that strategies for overall healthy aging may help keep the brain healthy and may even offer some protection against developing Alzheimer’s or related diseases. Try to keep your weight within recommended guidelines, avoid tobacco and excess alcohol, stay socially connected, and exercise both your body and mind.
Risk factors you can’t control
The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age. Most individuals with the disease are 65 or older. The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years after age 65. After age 85, the risk reaches nearly 50 percent.
Another risk factor is family history. Research has shown that those who have a parent, brother or sister, or child with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The risk increases if more than one family member has the illness. When diseases tend to run in families, either heredity (genetics) or environmental factors or both may play a role.
Scientists know genes are involved in Alzheimer’s. There are two categories of genes that can play a role in determining whether a person develops a disease. Alzheimer genes have been found in both categories:
1) Risk genes increase the likelihood of developing a disease, but do not guarantee it will happen. Scientists have so far identified one Alzheimer risk gene called apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4).
APOE-e4 is one of three common forms of the APOE gene; the others are APOE-e2 and APOE-e3. APOE provides the blueprint for one of the proteins that carries cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Everyone inherits a copy of some form of APOE from each parent. Those who inherit one copy of APOE-e4 have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Those who inherit two copies have an even higher risk, but not a certainty. Scientists do not yet know how APOE-e4 raises risk. In addition to raising risk, APOE-e4 may tend to make symptoms appear at a younger age than usual.
Experts believe there may be as many as a dozen other Alzheimer risk genes in addition to APOE-e4.
2) Deterministic genes directly cause a disease, guaranteeing that anyone who inherits them will develop the disorder. Scientists have found rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s in only a few hundred extended families worldwide.
When Alzheimer’s disease is caused by deterministic genes, it is called “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” and many family members in multiple generations are affected. True familial Alzheimer’s accounts for less than 5 percent of cases.
Genetic tests are available for both APOE-e4 and the rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s. However, health professionals do not currently recommend routine genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease. Testing for APOE-e4 is sometimes included as a part of research studies.