Breast Cancer: Literature Review


Breast cancer is a very widespread disease, and it is becoming a serious problem for women in many industrialized and developing countries throughout the world including the United Sates of America. Despite numerous studies of risk factors for breast cancer, its reasons still have not been determined definitively. This research is a literature review of Breastfeeding and the Prevention of Breast Cancer: a Retrospective Review of Clinical Histories article by Gonzålez-Jiménez, García, Aguilar, Padilla, & Álvarez (2013) and Fostering Early Breast Cancer Detection: Faith Community Nurses Reaching At-risk Populations study by Shackelford, Weyhenmeyer, & Mabus (2014).

African American women and woman living in rural areas

A recent study, Fostering Early Breast Cancer Detection: Faith Community Nurses Reaching At-risk Populations research supports the fact that women belonging to different racial and ethnic groups may have different risks of developing certain types of cancer, “African American women and woman living in rural areas has a higher risk of breast cancer development” (Shackelford, Weyhenmeyer, & Mabus, 2014). The article is based on the study of 586 participants from nine counties of Illinois of different age and ethnicity. The survey includes the following questions: What breast care do you do? What is your plan for breast care after attending the education session? Was the information presented helpful?

The authors of the article state, among the most frequently occurring cancer, breast cancer ranks the first place confidently. The global trend of constant increase in the number of breast cancer patients and mortality statistics confirm it. In recent years, malignant tumors in the mammary gland become more common. Recent studies have shown that African American women have a tendency of developing an aggressive form of breast cancer, known as triple negative cancer. Typically, cancer is diagnosed at a late stage, when there are few treatment opportunities according to US scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Acton, 2013). The research focused on a specific study as the authors suggest, “that women living in rural areas fall ill from cancer, particularly breast cancer, much less” (Shackelford, Weyhenmeyer, & Mabus, 2014). Medical institutions in large and industrial cities that have a very bad environmental situation state the highest rates of breast cancer.

Role of faith community nurses

The report also confirms that prevention of breast cancer is the most topical issue in terms of public health, especially its “female half that sick more often than men according to statistics” (Shackelford, Weyhenmeyer, & Mabus, 2014). Many people die from this type of cancer. However, the basic number of deaths happens because of the fact that the disease is detected at later stages when metastasis (cancer cells) have spread throughout the body and hit the major organs disrupting their functioning.

Thanks to modern methods of treatment, the disease is treatable and most favorable prognosis usually states n the early stages, when it is possible to reach “the five-year survival rate of more than 90 per cent of cases” (Marks & Sterngold, 2014). Nevertheless, the main question that is of interest to many is it possible to prevent a dangerous disease?

Among a set of measures aimed at improving the quality of cancer care, the largest part of the human resources in the health system – the role of nurses is given a great importance. The nurse is a vital element in providing a comprehensive and effective care to the patients. Taking into account the specificity of cancer patients and the social significance of care of cancer patients, the need for specialization of nurses in this field is extremely increasing requiring special knowledge and skills in cases of chemo- and radiotherapy, in palliative treatment in terms of rehabilitation, and provision of psychological support to patients and their families. Early detection of breast cancer is not just education and empowerment of women, a decisive role is also played by the provision of appropriate professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes of nurses. The authors claim, “faith community nurses were determined to be valuable resources that could affect the quality of care across the continuum for at-risk populations” (Shackelford, Weyhenmeyer, & Mabus, 2014).

In order to educate regular nurses as faith community nurses, a grant through the National Vulnerable Populations Community Grants Program to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL was provided. The effective educational strategy comprised videos and DVDs that featured the aforementioned educational content and life-size breast models. As a result, it was stated that faith community nurses played a key role in providing breast care education to at-risk populations.

Breastfeeding and breast cancer prevention

A recent study, Breastfeeding and the Prevention of Breast Cancer: a Retrospective Review of Clinical Histories research reveals the fact that parous woman who is breastfeeding for over six months protects herself from breast cancer when the she is a non-smoker. A retrospective study was conducted in Granada San Cecilio UniversityHospital in Spain and proved by the histories of each patient. Generally, records of 504 female patients from 19 to 91 years of age were analyzed. Besides, some other risk factors such as obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, and family history of cancer were taken into account.

Kotsopoulos et al. (2012) argue that among carriers of BRCA1 gene breastfeeding for at least one year reduces the risk of breast cancer “by 32 percent, and breastfeeding for two or more years reduces breast cancer development risk by about 19 percent each year”. In its turn, speaking about BRCA2 gene carriers, the risk of breast cancer was not statistically significant. It is a known fact that pregnancy and breastfeeding protect women from developing breast cancer. Both processes stimulate the formation of breast epithelium and suppress estrogen levels, which is conducive to the emergence of this form of cancer (Kotsopoulos et al., 2012). In this situation, researchers rely on the maternity ward nurses. They should tell mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding that are not only strengthening the immune system of the baby, but also protecting his mother from the dangerous disease (GonzĂĄlez-JimĂ©nez, GarcĂ­a, Aguilar, Padilla, & Álvarez, 2013).


In conclusion, it should be stressed that in this study, the focus was on the expression of breast cancer specifics and ability to prevent it. The first analyzed article provides information concerning the need for quality care for cancer patients as well as breast self-examination. Education of faith community nurses of principles of preventive examinations is important in case they could carry out a clinical examination and teach women to perform breast self-examination. The second article proves the idea that childbirth and breastfeeding have a direct relation to the age of breast cancer diagnosis. To sum things up, breastfeeding, especially prolonged one reduces the risk of breast cancer but lactation protects only non-smoking mothers.


Acton, A. (2013). Breast Cancer New Insights for the Healthcare Professional. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholarly Editions.

Gonzålez-Jiménez, E., García, P., Aguilar, M., Padilla, C., & Álvarez, J. (2013). Breastfeeding and the Prevention of Breast Cancer: a Retrospective Review of Clinical Histories. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23(1), 2397-2403.

Kotsopoulos, J., Lubinski, J., Salmena, L., Lynch, H., Kim-Sing, C., Foulkes, W., Ghadirian, P., Neuhausen, S., Demsky, R., Tung, N., Ainsworth, P., Senter, L., Eisen, A., Eng, C., Singer, C., Ginsburg, O., Blum, J., Huzarski, T., Poll, A., Sun, P. and Narod, S. (2012). Breastfeeding and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Breast Cancer Research, 14(2), p.R42.

Marks, P., & Sterngold, J. (2014). On the Cancer Frontier: One Man, One Disease, and a Medical Revolution. New York: Public Affairs.

Shackelford, J., Weyhenmeyer, D., & Mabus, L. (2014). Fostering Early Breast Cancer Detection: Faith Community Nurses Reaching At-risk Populations. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 18(6), 113-117.

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