The prevalence rates are quite similar throughout the world with the United States leading in the number of incidences and China showing the least. Historically, Eastern Europe and the Far East have had low rates of breast cancer which however, have begun to rise rapidly (Babb et al, 2001).
The age related incidence is also very significant in this disease as, the age group most at risk are women over 50 years old (80% of cases) and the highest number of cases is in this 50-69 age group (Office for National Statistics, London, 2008).
The treatment for breast cancer is dependent on various factors like, the type of breast cancer, the size and histopathology of the tumor, the stage of the disease and the presence or absence of certain biomarkers. The general health of the patient is also a major factor in determining the mode of treatment. The options range from unilateral to bilateral mastectomies, lumpectomy, with additional chemotherapy or radiation therapy or chemotherapy and radiation on their own. Tamoxifen, an endocrine targeting drug which acts by interfering with the activity of estrogen, a female hormone is the largest selling drug for breast cancer. Tamoxifen has been used for more than 30 years to treat breast cancer in women and this too, has side effects that cannot be overlooked and in most cases is usually an additional therapeutic drug. All these treatments are painful in different degrees both physically and emotionally. The recovery time is long, especially in older patients and the nature of the disease, that it could reoccur, is an emotionally exhausting variable to live with. The invasive and painful features of the currently available treatment options and the high incidences, makes this a very important disease in which to fund research.
The awareness, on the rising numbers and the need to address the methods of diagnosis and treatment has been heeded by many countries and organizations. Technological advances in one area serendipitously affect applications in other areas. Nanotechnology is one such science that has influenced developments in many spheres of science, technology and medicine.
Nanotechnology involves the creation of practical substances, devices, and systems which can be used in different applications on an incredibly small scale. The size and scale we are referring to here is in nanometers and hence the name nanotechnology. Nanotechnology works between 1 and 100 nanometers, a nanometer being, one billionth of a meter. To put this in proportion we can compare this to being the same as about ten times the diameter of a hydrogen atom.
Advances in this technology have had applications in treatment options for many diseases including cancer.
Significance of the Issue
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in women (http://www.cancer.gov/statistics/). Breast cancer incidences and statistics are calculated and processed by gender, age, geographic variation, trends over time and prevalence. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the United Kingdom although the incidence in men is minute compared to other cancers. In 2005 there were 45,947 new cases of breast cancer that were diagnosed, of these 45,660 (over 99%) were in women and 287 (less than 1%) in men.
As mentioned earlier the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with