Will I Need Radiation
Most oncologists generally recommend;radiation treatment;for all breast cancer patients who undergo only removal of the tumor .
For women who undergo whole-breast removal, radiation may be recommended for those who are considered high-risk, especially those with tumors larger than 5 centimeters and with more than four cancerous lymph nodes.
Tests At The Breast Cancer Clinic
If you have suspected breast cancer you’ll be referred to a specialist breast cancer clinic for further tests. This referral will be because of your symptoms or because your mammogram has shown an abnormality,
Mammogram and breast ultrasound
If you have symptoms and have been referred to a specialist breast unit by your GP, you’ll probably be invited to have a mammogram if you are over 35 years old. This is an X-ray of your breasts. You may also need an ultrasound scan.
If your cancer was detected through the BreastCheck screening programme, you may need another mammogram or ultrasound scan.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your breasts. It helps to determine the nature of a lump or of the abnormality. It may be needed to find out if a lump in your breast is solid or contains liquid.
Your breasts are made up of thousands of tiny glands that produce milk. This glandular tissue contains a higher concentration of breast cells than other breast tissue, making it denser.
Dense breast tissue can make a mammogram difficult to read. Lumps or areas of abnormal tissue are harder to spot.
Younger women tend to have denser breasts. This is why mammography is not routinely performed in women under 35 years. As you get older, the amount of glandular tissue in your breasts decreases and is replaced by fat. This means your breasts become less dense.
A Radical Approach Isnt Necessarily Better Than A Conservative One
A mastectomy is not the only way to remove breast cancer. A lumpectomy is an option for many early-stage patients, Dr. Greenup says. The breast cancer itself is removed and the residual remaining breast tissue is treated with whole breast radiation, she explains. Increasingly, for older women with small, favorable breast cancer types, we can even consider foregoing radiation in some cases.
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When Is A Second Opinion A Good Idea
Having a second opinion can help you be certain of your;treatment;plan and healthcare partnering decisions. You will have less anxiety if you can cultivate a sense of trust and care with your doctor. In addition to quality care and good treatment decisions, your peace of mind is an important part of the equation.
Here some ideas that may be important to consider regarding second opinions:
Are Your Concerns Treated With Respect
Dont be afraid to ask questions; raising your concernseven those that you may think will be viewed as trivialwith your oncology team will help you better understand your options and provide your doctors with insight into what is important to you. Today, there are many;treatment;options available to you. Work with your team to find the right combination for you.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with your medical team about what you have learned regarding your condition?
Do your research. Speak with support groups and breast cancer survivors. The more information you gather about your treatment options, the better decisions youll make.
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What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
Questions To Ask After Getting A Diagnosis
Is there enough information to recommend a treatment plan for me? If not, which tests or procedures will be needed? Will I need to see other doctors?
What are my treatment plan options?
What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
Whom would you recommend for a second opinion?
When do I need to make a treatment decision?
Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
Who will lead my overall treatment?
What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
What can I do to get ready for treatment?
If I am worried about managing the costs of cancer care, who can help me? Who can help me understand what aspects of my care are covered by my insurance?
If I have questions or problems, who should I call?
Do you communicate with your patients by email or with an electronic health record system?
If have a strong family history of cancer, what is my chance of getting another cancer? How does that change my treatment options? Should I see a genetic counselor?
Do you have a social worker I can speak with?
What should I tell my employer, if anything, and what laws protect my rights as an employee?
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I Dont Have A Family History Of Cancer Why Do I Need A Cancer Screening
Even though a family history of cancer increases your risk, its possible for anyone to develop cancer during their lifetime. Cancer screenings are recommended because theres evidence that early diagnosis can lead to better treatment outcomes. In some cases, like with breast cancer, cancer can be cured completely if caught early.
Can Cancer Form In Other Parts Of The Breast
Cancers can also form in other parts of the breast, but these types of cancer are less common. These can include:
- Angiosarcomas. This type of cancer begins in the cells that make up the lining of blood or lymph vessels. These cancers can start in breast tissue or breast skin. They are rare.
- Inflammatory breast cancer. This type of cancer is rare and different from other types of breast cancer. It is caused by obstructive cancer cells in the skins lymph vessels.
- Paget disease of the breast, also known as Paget disease of the nipple. This cancer affects the skin of the nipple and areola .
- Phyllodes tumors. These are rare, and most of these masses are not cancer. However, some are cancerous. These tumors begin in the breasts connective tissue, which is called the stroma.
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:
What Type Of Doctor Should I See If I Think I Have Breast Cancer
If you think you have breast cancer, you should talk to your primary care physician or OB/GYN. A number of doctors may play a role in your;breast cancer treatment. The following is a list of doctors who may be involved in your care:
- Medical oncologist: A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy
- Surgical oncologist: A doctor who uses surgery to diagnose, stage and treat cancer and manage certain cancer-related symptoms, and who may perform biopsies and other surgical procedures such as removing a lump or a breast
- Radiation oncologist: A physician trained in cancer treatment using radiation to shrink tumors and destroy cancer cells
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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.
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.
Common Questions After Treatment Ends
When you receive your follow-up care plan from your doctor or other health care provider, answers to the questions below should be provided. Make sure to ask any other questions you may have:
- How long will it take for me to get better and feel more like myself?
- Which doctor should I see for my follow-up care? How often?
- What symptoms should I watch out for?
- What tests do I need after treatment is over? How often will I have them?
- What are long-term health issues I might expect as a result of my cancer treatment?
- What is the chance that my cancer will return?
- What records do I need to keep about my treatment?
- What can I do to take care of myself and be as healthy as possible?
- Can you suggest a support group that might help me?
You might find it helpful to write these questions down. When you meet with the doctor or follow-up care specialist, you can take notes or record your talks to refer to later. Talk about any concerns you have related to your follow-up care plan.
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What Is The Stage Of My Cancer
Cancer staging;is a standardized way of classifying the severity of a patients cancer. There are various systems that use number or letter codes to designate the cancers status and how far it may have spread.
You may have heard of Stages 0 through IV, which reflect a tumors size and the extent of metastasis. A higher stage means a larger tumor and wider distribution of cancer cells.
Your doctor uses staging to plan your treatment, gauge your prognosis and communicate with other cancer specialists. What stage your cancer is in also will help determine whether youre eligible for clinical trials which offer newer treatment options.
What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. It starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control.
Breast;cancer cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Breast cancer is most common in women, but;men can get breast cancer, too.
Breast cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body and grow there, too. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis.
Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So even if breast cancer spreads to the bones , its still called breast cancer. Its not called bone cancer unless it starts from cells in the bone.
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What Is The Extent Of My Breast Cancer
Breast cancer stages are typically expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IVwith stage 0 representing contained, non-invasive cancers and stage IV representing cancers that have spread. The results of the biopsy and images taken will allow your oncologist to determine the extent of your breast cancer. ;Read more about breast cancer staging.
Ask Your Doctor For A Survivorship Care Plan
Talk with your doctor about developing a survivorship care plan for you. This plan might include:
- A suggested schedule for follow-up exams and tests
- A schedule for other tests you might need in the future, such as early detection tests for other types of cancer, or tests to look for long-term health effects from your cancer or its treatment
- A list of possible late- or long-term side effects from your treatment, including what to watch for and when you should contact your doctor
- Diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle modification;suggestions
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What Type Of Breast Cancer Do I Have
Breast cancers arent all the same. Doctors classify them in a number of different ways. The most basic place to start is where the cancer cells originate. Their origin is a key factor in whether or not your cancer may spread and helps dictate the kind of treatment youll get.;
Most breast cancers 70% to 80% start in the;milk ducts. Theyre known as infiltrating or invasive ductal carcinomas, meaning that theyve broken through the milk ducts wall and have proliferated into the breasts fatty tissue. Once there, its possible for the cancer cells to further spread to other parts of the body.;
Another;10% of breast cancers start in the milk-producing glands, or lobules, and are called invasive lobular carcinomas. Theyre also capable of spreading.
Other rarer breast cancers may involve the nipple,;the breasts connective tissue;or the linings of blood vessels or lymph vessels.;
Some breast cancers are non-invasive. They havent spread. Theyre contained within the milk ducts and are called ductal carcinoma in situ . Generally, the prognosis for patients with DCIS is very good, Dr. Abraham says.
Questions To Ask Your Breast Surgeon After Your First Surgery
What type of breast cancer do I have?
What is the size of the tumor?
What is the grade and stage of this disease? What are my biomarkers? What do these mean?
What are the chances that the breast cancer will return?
Can you explain my pathology report to me?
Can I get a copy of my pathology report? How and when can I get these results?
Was all of the cancer removed during the surgery?
Will I need to take further medication after surgery even if all of the cancer was removed? If so, why?
How many lymph nodes were removed?
Has the cancer spread to any of the lymph nodes? If so, how many? Has the cancer spread to anywhere else in my body?
Do I need additional surgery?
If I have a mastectomy without reconstruction, where can I get a prosthesis? Is this covered by my insurance?
Will my arm be affected by surgery? For how long? Will I need physical therapy for my arm?
When will I be able to work and/or return to my normal routine? Are there any activities I should avoid?
Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?
Will my surgeon communicate with my medical oncologist or radiation oncologist?
Do you recommend any genetic testing of the tumor?
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What Should I Bring With Me
In order to make it a thorough consultation, the oncologist youre meeting with should have all your reports and other requested materials. This includes copies of scans, x-rays, MRIs, CTs, or other imaging tests that were done, and pathology slides if a biopsy was performed.
In addition, we always ask that you bring in any medications you take, including over-the-counter pain relievers, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. Rather than just making a list, we ask that you bring in the actual medicines so we can note the dosages. Before recommending a treatment, doctors have to know what youre taking in order to make sure there are no potential interactions. People may forget things like calcium and vitamin D, but those can interfere with some treatments.
We encourage you to take notes during your appointment. If you can, bring someone with you a family member or a friend to be another set of ears in the room. In addition to providing emotional support, they can help you remember what the doctor says, take notes for you, and remind you of key questions that you dont want to forget to ask.