CareMount Medical Cancer Center believes in helping women understand breast cancer including detection, diagnosis, treatment options, and risk factors. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer survival rates have increased, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a more personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease. This cancer occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells and continue to accumulate, forming a lump or mass.
Most breast cancers start in the milk ducts or lobules and are called ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma. Noninvasive cancer does not go beyond the milk ducts. Invasive cancer spreads into surrounding tissues of the breast. Cells may spread (metastasize) through your breast to your lymph nodes or to other parts of your body.
Researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer. While most cases occur in women, it can also occur in men.
Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. If you have risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and screening for breast cancer.
Risk factors include
CareMount Medical doctors encourage patients to be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and to report any changes, including swelling, dimpling, redness, scaly nipple or breast skin/nipple discharge, to their physician immediately. Some women find it helpful to do a monthly breast self-exam to look for lumps or changes in their breasts. If you feel a lump in your breast, even if your breast imaging studies are normal, make an appointment with your doctor immediately or call the CareMount Medical Cancer Center Referral Line at 1-844-484-3292.
Medical experts suggest mammograms every one to two years for most women starting at the age of 40. Women with a high risk of breast cancer will likely be screened more often.
A person’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if a close relative has been diagnosed with this type of cancer. There are criteria set forth by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network to determine who should undergo genetic testing.
Mammograms are the main test used to screen for breast cancer. Routine screening helps doctors find cancer early. At CareMount Medical we are at the forefront of breast cancer diagnosis by using 3D mammography methods, MRI guided biopsy and a wire-free radar breast localization system.
If a mammogram finds a spot that looks like it could be cancer, doctors usually follow up with a biopsy. During a biopsy, a doctor takes one or more small samples of tissue from the breast so that the cells can be examined under a microscope to see if they are cancerous.
Cancer can begin in different areas of the breast — the ducts, the lobules, or in some cases, the tissue in between. When identifying the specific type of breast cancer, the pathologist will also check if the cancer has spread into the surrounding tissues. The following terms are used to describe the extent of the cancer: In situ (breast cancers have not spread beyond the milk ducts) and invasive or infiltrating (cancers have spread into the surrounding breast tissue).
|Ductal Carcinoma In Situ||These cancers start in the cells lining the milk ducts and make up the majority of breast cancers. This cancer is located only in the duct.||DCIS doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms in most cases. However, some signs may include a breast lump or bloody nipple discharge.|
|Invasive or infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC)||This is a cancer that has spread outside of the duct, and is the most common type of breast cancer. About 80% of all cases are invasive ductal carcinomas.||Swelling of all or part of the breast; skin irritation or dimpling breast; nipple pain or the nipple turning inward; redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple; nipple discharge other than breast milk; lumps in the underarm area.|
|Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC)||This cancer begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast. The cancer cells have broken out of the lobule where they began and have the potential to spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body.||Typically doesn’t form a lump, instead, there is a change in the breast that feels like a thickening or fullness in one part of the breast and is different from the surrounding breast tissue..|
|Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)||LCIS is located only in the lobules. LCIS is not considered cancer. However, LCIS is a risk factor for developing invasive breast cancer in both breasts.||LCIS does not cause symptoms and usually does not show up on a mammogram. It tends to be diagnosed as a result of a biopsy performed on the breast for some other reason. Typically occurs before menopause, between the ages of 40 and 50.|
Breast cancer treatment requires a team approach including a breast surgeon, radiologist, pathologist, medical oncologist, plastic surgeon and radiation oncologist. The CareMount Medical Cancer Center team specializes in caring for women at every stage, from diagnosis to recovery.
While each case is unique, women with early-stage breast cancer often receive two types of treatments; local treatment which targets the breast directly including surgery and radiation; and systemic treatment which targets the whole body including chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy.
Generally, the medical oncologist appointment occurs after surgery but there are instances in which chemotherapy or anti-endocrine therapy may be administered first.
Currently, there are more than 3.6 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, ask your doctor what you can do to prevent cancer, including genetic testing.
To schedule an appointment or obtain a second opinion on your diagnosis, please call the CareMount Medical Cancer Center Referral Line at 1-844-484-3292.