If you or your loved one is dealing with a diagnosis of breast cancer, our comprehensive team of breast cancer specialists at West Cancer Center & Research Institute is here to surround you with the latest treatments and technology to design a personalized treatment plan specific to your disease. Our goal is to also provide resources and information to better help you understand and manage your breast cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that begin with uncontrolled growth of the breast cells. There are many different types of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. The breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. Most breast cancer being in the ducts or lobules.
Types of Breast Cancer
This rare form of cancer starts in the lining of the lymph vessels or blood vessels. It can cause skin changes or a lump in the breast and is sometimes a complication of previous radiation treatment to the breast.
DUCTAL CARCINOMA IN SITU (DCIS)
This form of breast cancer is also called intraductal This metastatic cancer is aggressive and fast growing due to the cells making too much of a protein known as HER2. Very specific treatment plans are designed for women with this form of breast cancer.
HER2-POSITIVE BREAST CANCER(DCIS)
This breast cancer over-expresses a protein on the outside of the cells that can be measured. IT is important to know because specific chemotherapy is used in the treatment plan.
HR+ POSITIVE BREAST CANCER
This breast cancer is fueled by either or both the hormones estrogen (ER+) and progesterone (PR+) Personalized treatment plans are designed that may include hormone therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
INFLAMMATORY BREAST CANCER (IBC)
This rare form of breast cancer presents with a swollen, red and tender appearance and advances rapidly from the original location to nearby tissue and even the lymph nodes.IBC symptoms are caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin. You can also see a pitting or thickening of the skin that may look like an orange peel.
INVASIVE LOBULAR CARCINOMA
This invasive type of cancer begins in the lobules (milk-producing glands) and can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes.
INVASIVE DUCTAL CARCINOMA(DCIS)
This invasive type of cancer begins in the ducts and can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes.
MALE BREAST CANCER
Although breast cancer is most common in women, it can affect men-especially older men. It is treated the same as female breast cancer.
METASTATIC BREAST CANCER
Also called advanced breast cancer or Stage IV, means your breast cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body (such as the bones, lung, liver or brain). This diagnosis is often misunderstood since the cancer is still breast cancer even though it lives in another organ and requires a treatment plan specific for breast cancer.
PAGET’S DISEASE OF THE BREAST
This is a rare form of breast cancer involving the skin of the nipple. Paget disease starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple then to the areola.
RECURRENT BREAST CANCER
This form of breast cancer can occur months or even years after the initial treatment from cancer cells that survived the initial treatment undetected and multiplied. The cancer may re-occur in the same place or have spread to another part of the body.
TRIPLE-NEGATIVE BREAST CANCER
This breast cancer does not grow based on hormone receptors (estrogen and progesterone proteins that tell cells what to do) or too many HER2 receptors.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to speak to your provider as soon as possible for further examination.
- A breast lump or thickening
- An increase in size or change in shape of the breast(s)
- Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples
- Change in breast color
- Changes in touch (may feel hard, tender or warm)
- Increase in breast size or shape (over a short period of time)
- Irritated or itchy breasts
- Lumps or nodes felt on or inside of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Pain in/on any part of the breast
- Peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
- Redness or pitting of the breast skin (like the skin of an orange)
- Skin changes, such as swelling, redness, or other visible differences in one or both breasts
How to Diagnose Breast Cancer
If your provider would like to further investigate the possibility of breast cancer, one or more of the following diagnostic procedures may be performed:
Is recommended whensomething abnormal or difficult to define is discovered during a screening mammogram.At the Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center we use 3-D mammography and have specially trained breast radiologist reading the mammograms
May be used if someone has been diagnosed with breast cancer or has a high risk for developing breast cancer-not for screening purposes. Magnetic waves are used to measure the size of a mass, check for other tumors in the affected or opposite breast.
With ultrasound guidance, tissue samples are taken from the suspicious mass or skin thickening through a thin, hollow needle and sent to pathology.
A low-dose X-ray examination of the breast that is recommended for women over the age of 40 annually. This form of mammogram is for women who have no breast symptoms or changes in their breast exam. At the Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center we use 3D mammography and have specially trained breast radiologist reading the mammograms
A surgical or open biopsy involves removing part or all of suspicious mass if the results of a needle biopsy aren’t clear.
If a suspicious lump or mass is detected during a mammogram, one of breast surgeons or specially trained breast radiologist will use a wand-like device that delivers sound waves to look inside the breast. A needle biopsy will be done in conjunction to evaluate the suspicious site.
Stages of Breast Cancer
STAGE 0 (CARCINOMA IN SITU)
There are 3 types of breast carcinoma in situ:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a noninvasive condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, DCIS may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues. At this time, there is no way to know which lesions could become invasive.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast. This condition seldom becomes invasive cancer.
- Paget disease of the nipple is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the nipple only.
The tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller and has not spread outside the breast.
Small clusters of breast cancer cells (larger than 0.2 millimeter but not larger than 2 millimeters) are found in the lymph nodes and either:
- no tumor is found in the breast; or
- the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.
- No tumor is found in the breast or the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.
- Cancer (larger than 2 millimeters) is found in 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes; or
- in the lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during a sentinel lymph node biopsy); or
- the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
The tumor is:
- larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters. Small clusters of breast cancer cells (larger than 0.2 millimeter but not larger than 2 millimeters) are found in the lymph nodes; or
- larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 5 centimeters. Cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to the lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during a sentinel lymph node biopsy); or
- larger than 5 centimeters. Cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
- no tumor is found in the breast or the tumor may be any size. Cancer is found in 4 to 9 axillary lymph nodes or in the lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during imaging tests or a physical exam); or
- the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. Small clusters of breast cancer cells (larger than 0.2 millimeter but not larger than 2 millimeters) are found in the lymph nodes; or
- the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. Cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to the lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during a sentinel lymph node biopsy).
The tumor may be any size and cancer has spread to the chest wall and/or to the skin of the breast and caused swelling or an ulcer. Also, cancer may have spread to:
- up to 9 axillary lymph nodes; or
- the lymph nodes near the breastbone.
No tumor is found in the breast or the tumor may be any size. Cancer may have spread to the skin of the breast and caused swelling or an ulcer and/or has spread to the chest wall. Also, cancer has spread to:
- 10 or more axillary lymph nodes; or
- lymph nodes above or below the collarbone; or
- axillary lymph nodes and lymph nodes near the breastbone.
In Stage IV, cancer has spread (or metastasized) to other organs of the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver, or brain.
*Source: National Cancer Institute, October 19, 2018
Types of Breast Cancer Treatments
Breast cancer treatment plans will vary depending on multiple factors including, but not limited to, the stage of diagnosis, as well as the location of the cancer. Our dedicated team of breast cancer specialists will discuss your treatment options and plan allowing you and family to consider all possible treatment options. Read below for breast cancer treatment options.
AXILLARY LYMPH NODE DISSECTION
Additional lymph nodes are removed when cancer has been found in the sentinel lymph nodes.
Removal of both the healthy breast and the diseased breast.
Uses drugs that destroy fast-growing cancer cells to either shrink the tumor(s), reduce the risk of returning, or spreading to another part of the body. This may be given orally or intravenously.
Clinical trials provide patients the opportunity to receive drugs or therapies years before they’re approved by the FDA.Our patients have advanced access to the therapies of tomorrow – today. Ask your provider or visit our website to see what clinical trials are currently available for breast cancer.
Designed to treat breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones (HR+ cancers) that may include medications to stop the body from making estrogen after menopause (aromatase inhibitors), block hormones from attaching to the cancer cells (selective estrogen receptor modulators) or stop hormone production in the ovaries.
Removal of the tumor and small margin of healthy tissue, also referred to as breast-conserving surgery. Sometimes if the tumor is large, chemotherapy may be recommended to shrink the tumor before a lumpectomy.
Includes removal of all the breast tissue, except the nipple and areola.
Removal of all the breast tissue including; the nipple, fatty tissue, the lobules, ducts and some skin.
Involves the use of x-rays or protons to kill the cancer cells.
SENTINEL NODE BIOPSY
This procedure removes the sentinel node, the first place the cancer is likely to spread.
TARGETED THERAPY DRUGS
Specific genes or proteins in the cancer cells are targeted with a drug(s) to stop your cancer from growing and spreading