Breast Cancer Treatment
Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the body. These cells group together to form tumors and can spread to other areas of the body. Breast cancer can develop anywhere in the breast and spread throughout the body.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in America, after skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 12% of women (1 in 8) will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. More than 232,000 women will be diagnosed this year and 40,000 women will die from the disease.
Death rates have been on the decline since 1989 due to earlier screening, improved awareness and better treatments.
Request more information on screening and treatment of breast cancer today:Call or contact us online.
Breast Cancer Causes
Some risk factors for breast cancer can be changed and some cannot. Some of the risk factors you can’t change include:
- Being female (male breast cancer, although rare, does exist)
- Your age (2 out of 3 breast cancers are found in women over the age of 55)
- You have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer
- You have had breast cancer in one breast in the past
- You have dense breast tissue
- You started your period early (before age 12) or continued it longer (after age 55)
Other risk factors can be adjusted. Here are a few risk factors you can change:
- Having no children, or waiting until age 30 for your first baby raises your risk
- Taking birth control pills
- Drinking alcohol
- Being overweight or obese
- Not exercising
Breast feeding, even for a short time, is beneficial in reducing breast cancer risk.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Changes in the breast are the most common breast cancer symptoms. Finding a change in your breast doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but you should see your healthcare provider for a check-up as soon as possible.
Common breast cancer symptoms include:
- A change in how the breast or nipple feels (tenderness, thickening, larger pores in the skin)
- A breast lump (any breast lump should be checked by a doctor)
- Nipple discharge (drainage from the breast) when you are not breastfeeding
It’s a good idea to become familiar with the texture of your breasts so you can easily identify any changes if they develop.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Breast cancer detection is a popular and hot topic. Healthcare researchers know that screening tools like breast self-exams, clinical breast exams and mammograms are effective tools that save lives. Any changes in the breasts should be checked promptly by your medical provider.
Every woman is encouraged to follow these screening guidelines:
Women in their 20’s:
- Breast self-exams should start. Women should check their breasts every month. The week after your period is best because tissue is less swollen.
Women in their 20’s and 30’s:
- In addition to monthly exams at home, women should have a clinical breast exam (a breast exam performed by a medical professional) every three years. If you see your health provider for a Pap smear every year, you will likely have a clinical breast exam during this check-up.
Women in their 40’s:
- Have a yearly clinical breast exam by a healthcare provider.
- Mammograms should begin.
Some women have a higher risk for breast cancer. Your provider will recommend additional screenings as needed, but experts recommend an MRI and mammogram every year for closer monitoring.
Breast Cancer Stages
To diagnose breast cancer, your provider may use a variety of tools including X-ray, MRI, or CT scans to get a better view of a mass. Mammograms do not diagnose a cancer and are only used as a screening tool. The only way to truly diagnose cancer is through a breast biopsy.
This means your surgeon will collect a sample of tissue from the tumor or mass and other tissue samples around the tumor. These tissues will be examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. The distance cancer cells are found from the original tumor helps stage your cancer.
Breast cancer staging uses information about how far cancer has spread and assigns a number to communicate severity of disease. Stage 0 defines non-invasive breast cancer and advances to stage 4, the most advanced breast cancer. The medical world has developed very specific guidelines to stage breast cancer.
Your treatment will depend on the stage and location of your cancer at the time of diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, 100% of women diagnosed with a non-invasive cancer lived five years after their diagnosis. Only 22% of women with stage 4 cancer at diagnosis lived five years later.
Breast Cancer Treatment
Treating breast cancer varies greatly depending on the type of cancer, its location, and how advanced it is when diagnosed. You will likely need a team of medical professionals to treat your cancer. This may include oncologists, surgeons, social workers, nutritionists, and others.
The most common treatments for breast cancer include:
- Targeted drug therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Bone-directed therapy
Breast Cancer Support
For the many men and women who survive breast cancer, living through treatment and its after effects can be emotional. For women, having one or both breasts removed can affect self-esteem. Possible solutions to this issue include breast prosthesis, breast reconstruction and artificial breast implants.
After cancer treatment, many patients seek the help of breast cancer support groups and other resources.
To request more information on treatment of breast cancer: call or contact us online today.