What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the breast. Breast cancer begins in the breast tissue, which is comprised of glands used for milk production (called lobules) and ducts that connect these lobules to the nipple. The remainder of the breast is made up of fatty, connective and lymphatic tissue.
With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women and the number two cause of cancer death in women for all other races, second only to lung cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include the following:
If you experience any of the symptoms described above, you should speak with your physician.
Am I At Risk For Breast Cancer?
Many factors influence the risk for breast cancer and can include the following:
How is Breast Cancer Detected?
Early detection is the best protection! The American Cancer Society recommends that women exhibiting no signs or symptoms of breast cancer begin a yearly screening mammogram at the age of 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, however, these screenings may begin earlier.
Mammogram - An x-ray of the breast. During this x-ray, the breast is compressed between 2 metal plates. Any discomfort from the x-ray only last a few seconds. If the mammogram reveals any abnormalities, additional testing may be ordered.
Call 502.587.4327 to schedule your mammogram today.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - This test uses magnetic fields rather than x-rays to create an image, allowing for a clearer image of the breast. In addition, an MRI can help detect abnormalities or define those found on a mammogram.
Ultrasound - An ultrasound determines whether a lump represents a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst. Sound waves are used to create images of breast tissues and fluids within the body.
Women can also monitor their breast health by performing monthly self breast exams and having a clinical breast exam performed every three years.
Monthly Self Breast Exams - A breast self exam is the self-inspection of the breast to observe for any changes in size, shape, color or texture. The nipple and underarm should be examined as well for any changes or abnormalities. These exams should begin at age 20. It is best to perform a self exam when the breasts are not swollen or tender and not at the beginning of a menstrual cycle. Any abnormalities should be reported to your physician immediately so follow-up testing can be ordered as needed.
Clinical Breast Exam - This test is similar to a monthly self breast exam, except it is performed by a health care professional, such as a physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. Women between the ages of 20-39 should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years. Women age 40 and over should have this exam yearly.
How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
Breast cancer can be detected in a number of ways, however, an actual diagnosis of breast cancer can only be made through the testing of tissue or fluid taken from the tumor. There are many ways to accomplish a diagnosis, including the following:
In the case of either biopsy, the tissue or fluid obtained is sent to a pathologist to examine under the microscope to see if cancer cells are present.
How is Breast Cancer Treated?
Treatment of breast cancer depends on many factors. These can include the overall health of the patient, what stage the cancer is in (early vs. advanced), hormone sensitivity of the tumor and the patient’s feelings regarding treatment options and associated possible side effects. Some of the treatment options available include:
How Can I Learn More?
If you or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis, we are happy to assist you. We have dedicated Clinical Coordinators who assist in navigating our patients through the screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Learn more by calling 502.587.4108.
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