How Is Breast Cancer Treated
If the tests find cancer, you and your doctor will develop a treatment plan to eradicate the breast cancer, to reduce the chance of cancer returning in the breast, as well as to reduce the chance of the cancer traveling to a location outside of the breast. Treatment generally follows within a few weeks after the diagnosis.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size and location of the tumor in the breast, the results of lab tests done on the cancer cells, and the stage, or extent, of the disease. Your doctor will usually consider your age and general health as well as your feelings about the treatment options.
Breast cancer treatments are local or systemic. Local treatments are used to remove, destroy, or control the cancer cells in a specific area, such as the breast. Surgery and radiation treatment are local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systemic treatments. A patient may have just one form of treatment or a combination, depending on her individual diagnosis.
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Where Is The First Place Breast Cancer Spreads
The first place that breast cancer commonly spreads to outside the breast are the lymph nodes in the armpit . Surgery is usually needed to remove one or more lymph nodes to help check for breast cancer spread. This operation to remove lymph nodes in the armpit is known as axillary surgery.
Breast cancer found in the lymph nodes will impact the breast cancers staging, and the treatment plan will often be affected as well.
If cancer is found in the lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that cells have travelled through the lymphatic system and bloodstream to spread to other parts of the body. In this instance, treatment with systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, is likely to be recommended.
If cancer is found in a large number of axillary nodes, radiotherapy may also be recommended to kill any breast cancer cells that remain in the armpit but cannot be removed by surgery.
What Is Sclerosing Adenosis
Sclerosing adenosis is excess growth of tissues in the breast’s lobules. This often causes breast pain. While these changes in the breast tissue are very small, they may show up on mammograms as calcifications and can make lumps. Usually a biopsy is needed to rule out cancer. In addition, because the condition can be mistaken for cancer, the lumps are usually removed through surgical biopsy.
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Other Common Breast Conditions
Other common benign breast conditions include:
- Breast calcifications do not cause any noticeable symptoms, usually found during breast screening or an investigation for another breast problem
- Periductal mastitis occurs when the ducts under the nipple become inflamed and infected, causing a tender, hot or reddened breast
Targeted Drug Therapies For Breast Cancer
Targeted therapies are newer treatments for breast cancer patients. They utilize specific proteins within cancer cells, like the HER-2 protein. Targeted therapies can stop the HER-2 protein from stimulating tumor growth in cancer cells that have this protein. Targeted therapies have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy because they only target cancer cells. They are often used in combination with chemotherapy.
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Breast Cancer Types And Symptoms
There are several kinds of breast cancer. Many of them share symptoms.
Symptoms of ductal carcinoma
This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your ducts. About 1 in 5 new breast cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ . This means you have cancer in the cells that line your ducts, but it hasnât spread into nearby tissue.
You may not notice any symptoms of ductal carcinoma. It can also cause a breast lump or bloody discharge.
Symptoms of lobular carcinoma
This kind begins in the glands that make milk, called lobules. Itâs the second most common type of breast cancer. Symptoms include:
- Fullness, thickening, or swelling in one area
- Nipples that are flat or point inward
Symptoms of invasive breast cancer
Breast cancer thatâs spread from where it began into the tissues around it is called invasive or infiltrating. You may notice:
- A lump in your breast or armpit. You might not be able to move it separately from your skin or move it at all.
- One breast that looks different from the other
- A rash or skin thatâs thick, red, or dimpled like an orange
- Skin sores
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms of triple-negative breast cancer
Breast cancer is called triple-negative if it doesnât have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and doesnât make a lot of a protein called HER2. This kind tends to grow and spread faster than other types, and doctors treat it differently.
Symptoms of male breast cancer
- A small, hard cyst
Beyond The Breast Cancer Lump
Feeling a lump or a new change in your breast is a signal that you should make an appointment with your doctor. Other potential signs of breast cancer warrant a trip as well. Many of these changes can be seen as well as felt so make sure you continue to be aware of your breasts and your normal.
Other potential signs of breast cancer include:
- Skin changes, such as dimpled, puckering or scaly skin
- Change in size, shape, skin texture or color of your breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Nipple changes such as inversion, tenderness or flaking
- Swelling on part of your breast or enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
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What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer originates in your breast tissue. It occurs when breast cells mutate and grow out of control, creating a mass of tissue . Like other cancers, breast cancer can invade and grow into the tissue surrounding your breast. It can also travel to other parts of your body and form new tumors. When this happens, its called metastasis.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms
Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.
- If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
- If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
- If tumors form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
- If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
- If breast cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord and forms tumors, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.
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How Are Breast Lumps Treated
If a lump is proven to be cancer, surgery is usually performed. The surgeon will explain appropriate surgical options and provide you with the information necessary to make this decision.
You may have several consultations with other physicians for additional treatment, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy or hormone therapy.
One of the following radiation therapy treatments may be used after surgery to ensure any microscopic cancer cells are eliminated:
Lobular Carcinoma In Situ Symptoms
Lobular carcinoma in situ does not cause symptoms and cannot be seen with a mammogram. This condition is usually found when a doctor is doing a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump. If a person has LCIS, the breast cells will appear abnormal under a microscope.
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How Are Breast Lumps Diagnosed And Evaluated
Most breast lumps are benign . Proving that a lump is not cancer often involves imaging tests. One or more of the following imaging tests may be performed:
- mammogram: Mammography uses low dose x-rays to examine the breasts. This type of imaging involves exposing the breasts to a small amount of ionizing radiation to obtain pictures of the inside of the breasts. Either two single images or two tomosynthesis images are taken of each breast to begin the evaluation. Additional images may be needed. See theSafety page for more information about x-rays.
- breast ultrasound: Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of the inside of the breasts. Breast ultrasound can capture images of areas of the breast that may be difficult to see with mammography. It can also help to determine whether a breast lump is solid or fluid.
- breast MRI: Breast MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the inside of the breasts. MRI is helpful in evaluating breast lumps that are not visible with mammography or ultrasoundalthough it may not be appropriate for all women. Your doctor will help determine if breast MRI is right for you. Breast MRI requires injection of contrast material.
If a lump is proven to be benign by its appearance on these exams, no further steps may need to be taken. Your doctor may want to monitor the area at future visits to check if the breast lump has changed, grown or gone away.
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Breast Or Nipple Pain
Breast cancer can cause changes in skin cells that lead to feelings of pain, tenderness, and discomfort in the breast. If a lump is present, it is not painful.
Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.
may be a sign of breast cancer.
Although changes in the size of the breast can be a symptom of any type of breast cancer, the National Cancer Institute states that a rapid increase in breast size could be an indication of inflammatory breast cancer. This is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
If someone notices that either or both of their breasts have increased in size, they should consider contacting a doctor.
What Does A Breast Lump Feel Like
Breast tissue in and of itself can feel somewhat lumpy and sponge-like, so it can be hard to know if what you’re feeling is an actual lump or just normal breast tissue.
“A breast lump will feel like a distinct mass that’s noticeably more solid than the rest of your breast tissue. Lumps can range in size from the size of a pea to larger than a golf ball and may or may not be movable,” says Dr. Joshi. “On the other hand, normal breast tissue will feel like consistent fibrous mesh throughout your breast.”
Breast lumps are typically painless, but occasionally a woman may experience pain with a lump.
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The Breast Cancer Centers At Ctca
At each of our CTCA Breast Cancer Centers, located in our hospitals in Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix, our cancer care experts are devoted to a single mission: treating breast cancer patients with compassion and precision.
Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and may also include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and a plastic/reconstructive surgeon. Our pathologists and oncologists are experienced and trained in tools designed to diagnose, stage and treat the many types of breast cancer, from early-stage ductal carcinoma in situ to complex diseases such as triple-negative breast cancer and IBC. Genetic counseling and genetic testing are also available for qualifying patients.
Our patient-centered care model is designed to help you keep strong during treatment. Your multidisciplinary care team may recommend various evidence-informed supportive care services, including:
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Myth : A Small Lump Is Less Likely To Be Cancer Than A Large Lump
Breast lumps come in all sizes, and size doesn’t affect the odds that it’s cancer, says Melissa Scheer, MD, a breast-imaging specialist at Manhattan Diagnostic Radiology in New York.
Whenever you feel a lump that’s new or unusual, even if it’s tiny, see your doctor. Even small lumps can be aggressive cancers.
Is It A Breast Cancer Lump
Lumps or masses in the breast are common. Thankfully most of them are benignmeaning they are not cancerous. Fluid-filled cysts and noncancerous tumors such as fibroadenomas can often present as a lump, raising concern of cancer. Benign breast conditions, like fibrocystic changes, can cause the breasts to feel lumpy. So how can you tell if a mass is a breast cancer lump and not one of these other conditions?
A breast cancer lump is usually hard with irregular borders and painless. They can occur anywhere in the breast or even the armpit. It can be difficult to tell if a mass is mobile or just moving the tissues around it.
Bottom line? Simply feeling the breast doesnt give you enough information to tell the difference between a cancerous mass and a benign one. The key is to know your breasts, pay attention to any changes and get anything out of the ordinary checked by a medical professional for further work-up.
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Other Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Other changes in the breast people should look out for include:
- nipple discharge, which may be clear or tea-colored
- nipple texture and color changes
- changes in the breast, including color changes and itchy, flaky, or dimpled skin
Although breast cancer is
could cause cancer.
That said, the longer a cancerous lump grows, the greater the risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body. This is why it is important that people speak with a doctor as soon as they notice a lump in their breast of any size.
Benign breast lumps are non-cancerous, and it is normal for people to have them at some point during their lives. Cysts and fibroadenomas are examples of benign breast lumps.
According to Breastcancer.org, symptoms of benign breast lumps include:
- general breast pain
- nipple pain
- yellow or green discharge from the nipple
However, some types of breast cancer also present with these symptoms, so it is important that a person speaks with a doctor as soon as they notice any changes in their breast.
Also, some benign breast conditions can increase the risk of a person developing breast cancer later in life. In these cases, a doctor will draw up a treatment plan and monitor the breast for any changes.
Who Is Mainly Affected By Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women, second only to skin cancer. Its most likely to affect women over the age of 50.
Though rare, men can also develop breast cancer. Approximately 2,600 men develop male breast cancer every year in the United States, making up less than 1% of all cases.
Transgender women are more likely to develop breast cancer compared to cisgender men. Additionally, transgender men are less likely to develop breast cancer compared to cisgender women.
What age does breast cancer occur?
Breast cancer is most often diagnosed in adults over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age.
What race is most affected by breast cancer?
Overall, women who are non-Hispanic white have a slightly higher chance of developing breast cancer than women of any other race or ethnicity. Women who are non-Hispanic Black are almost as likely as non-Hispanic white women to develop the disease. Statistically, women who are Asian, Hispanic or Native American are the least likely to develop breast cancer.
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