Surgery For Breast Cancer
Most women with breast cancer have some type of surgery. Common types of breast surgery are lumpectomy, mastectomy, and taking out lymph nodes from the underarm. Women who have a mastectomy may also decide to have the breast shape rebuilt, either at the same time or later on.
Choosing between lumpectomy and mastectomy
Lumpectomy only takes out the lump and a little bit around it. It lets you keep most of your breast. The downside is that youll most likely need radiation treatment after surgery. But some women who have a mastectomy also need radiation afterward.
When choosing between a lumpectomy and mastectomy, be sure to get all the facts. At first you may think that a mastectomy is the best way to get it all out. Some women tend to choose mastectomy because of this. But in most cases, lumpectomy is just as good as mastectomy. Talk to your cancer care team. Learn as much as you can to make the right choice for you.
If you have a mastectomy, you may want to think about having your breast shape rebuilt. This is called breast reconstruction. Its not done to treat the cancer. Its done to build a breast shape that looks a lot like your natural breast.
If youre going to have a mastectomy and are thinking about having reconstruction, you should talk to a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy is done. Your breast can be rebuilt at the same time the mastectomy is done or later on.
Side effects of surgery
Place Your Hands On Your Hip
Strip to the waist and stand before a mirror. You will need to see both breasts at the same time. Stand with your hands on your hips and check the overall appearance of your breasts.
Look at the size, shape, and contour.
Note changes, if any, in the color or texture of the skin on your breasts as well as on your nipples and areolas.
Getting A Second Opinion
Getting a second opinion during your cancer care process is common. Its a good idea to get your second opinion before starting treatment, because a second opinion can alter your diagnosis and thus your treatment. However, you can get a second opinion at any point during treatment.
During your cancer care, consider asking for a second opinion in these instances:
- after your pathology report is complete
- before surgery
- after your staging work is complete, if you are uncomfortable with the treatment plan your doctor recommends
- while planning treatments following surgery
- during treatment, if you believe there may be a reason to change the course of your treatment
- after completing treatment, especially if you didnt ask for a second opinion prior to starting treatment
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Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Women are considered to be at average risk of breast cancer if they do not have known risk factors, such as genetic mutations or a family history of breast cancer.
Those who have these risk factors are considered to be at a higher lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. More regular screening is required to monitor this higher risk.
Risk factors that put you at higher risk are detailed below. Having any of these risk factors means you should get a mammogram and breast MRI annually starting at 30. A medical professional can help you assess your risk if youre unsure.
Who Should Be Tested For Brca
While BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations may increase your odds of developing breast cancer, your odds of having either mutation are pretty small. An estimated 0.25% of the general population carries a mutated BRCA gene, or about one out of every 400 people.
For some people, though, the chances of having a BRCA gene mutation are much higher. Genes are inherited, which is why knowing your family history is important when determining breast cancer risks. If one of your parents has a BRCA mutation, you have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutated gene.
Odds can also vary depending on a persons ethnicity. For example, people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a 2.5% chance of inheriting a BRCA mutation, or about 10 times the rate of the general population.
Because the overall odds are so low, most experts recommend that only people with a heightened risk get tested for BRCA mutations. Likewise, insurance companies often only cover genetic counseling and testing for individuals who are at high risk. A person could be considered at high risk for BRCA mutations if they have a family history of:
There are also other gene mutations besides BRCA that could increase the risk of breast cancer. The most prominent of these is PALB2. As with BRCA1 and BRCA2, testing for other genetic mutations is recommended only if you are at high risk for that particular gene.
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When To Call A Doctor
- A painless lump in your breast or armpit.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Changes in the skin of the breast, such as a dimple or skin that looks like an orange peel.
- A change in the nipple, such as scaling of the skin, a nipple that turns in, or discharge or bleeding.
- A change in the color or feel of the skin around the nipple.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about calling when you have problems, new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse.
Taking Charge: Screening For Breast Cancer
When health professionals talk about screening for a disease, they mean using some sort of test to see if a person has a particular condition. The purpose of screening is to detect and treat cancer earlier, because, in general, early treatment improves the chances of survival. There are several screening tests for breast cancer. Which ones you use depend on your age and other risk factors.
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In The Shower Or Bath
It may be easier to check your breasts while youre in the shower or bath, as your hands are wet. This makes it easier to slide your hand over your breasts.
An easy way to check your breasts is to:
If You Have A Family History Of Breast Cancer
UK guidelines recommend that women with a moderate or high risk of breast cancer because of their family history should start having screening mammograms every year in their forties.
If you are younger than 40 and have an increased risk of breast cancer, you should be offered yearly MRI scans from the age of 30 or 40. This depends on your level of risk.
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Extracellular Matrix Degradation In Cancer
Cell-cell and cell-ECM matrix adhesion, motility, and localised proteolysis are mediated mainly by matrix metalloproteases . Degradation of the extracellular matrix begins the process of metastasis. The cell develops structures called invadopodia, which are highly concentrated in several proteases and have a highly dynamic actincytoskeleton.
Mechanisms of metalloprotease action in cell motility involve:
- Proteolytic cleavage of growth factors, so they are readily available to cells not in direct physical contact
- Degradation of the ECM is facilitated by MMPs, so cells can move across tissues into nearby stroma.
- Regulated receptor cleavage to modulate migratory signaling
Most of these processes require a delicate balance between the functions of matrix metalloproteases or metalloprotease-disintegrins and natural tissue inhibitors of metalloproteases . Regulated proteolysis is an important mechanism to maintain homeostasis. There is increased expression of protease systems in cancer cells, to equip them with the tools necessary to degrade the extracellular matrix and release growth factors or transmembranereceptors. MMP-2 is upregulated in the bone, and increased levels of MMP-1 and MMP-19 are observed in the brain. This in turn, upregulates the signaling pathways necessary to provide increased cell adhesion, cell motility, cell migration, invasion, cancer- cell proliferation and survival.
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How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer
A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.
The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.
If signs are pointing to breast cancer, more tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need:
Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.
MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.
Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.
Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.
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Further Tests For Breast Cancer
If a diagnosis of breast cancer is confirmed, more tests will be needed to determine the stage and grade of the cancer, and to work out the best method of treatment.
If your cancer was detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme, youâll have further tests in the screening centre before being referred for treatment.
Breast Lumps Or Lumpiness
Many women find their breasts feel lumpy. Breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture.
Some women have more lumpiness in their breasts than others. In most cases, this lumpiness is no cause to worry.
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then its likely normal breast tissue.
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast or that feel like a change should be checked. This type of lump may be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition .
See a health care provider if you:
- Find a new lump that feels different from the rest of your breast
- Find a new lump that feels different from your other breast
- Feel something thats different from what you felt before
If youve had a benign lump in the past, dont assume a new lump will also be benign. The new lump may not be breast cancer, but its best to make sure.
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Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer can have a tumor of any size, and its cancer cells have spread to nearby and distant lymph nodes as well as distant organs.
The testing your doctor does will determine the stage of your breast cancer, which will affect your treatment.
Although they generally have less of it, men have breast tissue just like women do. Men can develop breast cancer too, but its much rarer.
According to the ACS , breast cancer is 100 times less common in white men than in white women. Its 70 times less common in black men than in black women.
That said, the breast cancer that men develop is just as serious as the breast cancer women are diagnosed with. It also has the same symptoms.
How To Check Yourself For Breast Cancer At Home
Lumps, dimpling and more: What to look for during a breast self-exam, plus how often you should check.
Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among women. Knowing how to check yourself for it can aid in early detection.
About one in eight women in the US will develop breast cancer during her lifetime and aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Although death rates from breast cancer have thankfully declined over the last several years, its still important to check yourself for breast cancer.
Because even in a world with high-tech doctors offices and plenty of ways to talk to a doctor online, taking care of yourself starts with you. By setting aside just five minutes every month to do a self exam, you can increase the likelihood of early detection if you do have cancer. The earlier you detect cancer, the earlier a doctor can treat it. And when it comes to breast cancer, early treatment is the key to a good prognosis.
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Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer
Diagnosis is the process of finding out the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing breast cancer usually begins when you find a lump in your breast or a screening mammography suggests a problem with the breast. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and do a physical exam. Based on this information, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order tests to check for breast cancer or other health problems.
The process of diagnosis may seem long and frustrating. Its normal to worry, but try to remember that other health conditions can cause similar symptoms as breast cancer. Its important for the healthcare team to rule out other reasons for a health problem before making a diagnosis of breast cancer.
The following tests are usually used to rule out or diagnose breast cancer. Many of the same tests used to diagnose cancer are used to find out the stage . Your doctor may also order other tests to check your general health and to help plan your treatment.
Can Exercise Help Reduce My Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer
Exercise is a big part of a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a useful way to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer in your postmenopausal years. Women often gain weight and body fat during menopause. People with higher amounts of body fat can be at a higher risk of breast cancer. However, by reducing your body fat through exercise, you may be able to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
The general recommendation for regular exercise is about 150 minutes each week. This would mean that you work out for about 30 minutes, five days each week. However, doubling the amount of weekly exercise to 300 minutes can greatly benefit postmenopausal women. The longer duration of exercise allows for you to burn more fat and improve your heart and lung function.
The type of exercise you do can vary the main goal is get your heart rate up as you exercise. Its recommended that your heart rate is raised about 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate during exercise. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your current age from 220. If you are 65, for example, your maximum heart rate is 155.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your heart and lung function, as well as burn fat. Some aerobic exercises you can try include:
Remember, there are many benefits to working more exercise into your weekly routine. Some benefits of aerobic exercise can include:
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Breast Exam By Your Doctor
The same guidelines for self-exams provided above are true for breast exams done by your doctor or other healthcare professional. They wont hurt you, and your doctor may do a breast exam during your annual visit.
If youre having symptoms that concern you, its a good idea to have your doctor do a breast exam. During the exam, your doctor will check both of your breasts for abnormal spots or signs of breast cancer.
Your doctor may also check other parts of your body to see if the symptoms youre having could be related to another condition.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program At Ctca
Thats why we developed the CTCA Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program, where our team of breast cancer experts work quickly to properly diagnose and stage each patient’s disease so she can make more informed decisions about her treatment options. Our breast cancer experts collaborate daily, allowing them to reach a diagnosis more efficiently and provide an individualized care plan designed to allow you to start treatment as soon as possible. The team also offers opportunities to enroll qualified patients in carefully selected clinical trials in areas such as immunotherapy and genomically targeted chemotherapy.
If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of IBC and want to schedule an appointment for diagnostic testing, or chat online with a member of our team.
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