Breast Cancer: Prevention and Treatment
Breast cancer is common. It accounts for nearly one out of every three cancers diagnosed in women. Fortunately, treatment success rates are high when breast cancer is detected early. Early detection is key to treating breast cancer. If you should get breast cancer, here is what you can expect.
Mammograms Are Effective
Mammograms are the most effective tool to help with the early detection and diagnosis of breast disease. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Bronson, like many other organizations, recommends women get a screening mammogram every year starting at age 40. Women who get screened regularly and are diagnosed early with breast cancer have a much greater chance of survival. Early detection is key.
I Could Have Breast Cancer, Then What?
It’s pretty scary to hear that you may have breast cancer. Most women don’t think they will get breast cancer and when they do, they’re not sure what to do. The first step is to confirm that it is breast cancer. In most circumstances, if a patient’s doctor thinks there’s a possibility of breast cancer, the doctor will have the patient get imaging tests and a breast biopsy. If the biopsy confirms breast cancer or if it’s not cancer but must be removed, the patient will get referred to a breast surgeon.
Breast Cancer Surgeries
Breast surgeons are trained in performing surgery to remove the cancer identified in the breast. Depending on the diagnosis, the breast surgeon will explain the surgical options to the patient.
- Simple or total mastectomy: the surgeon removes the entire breast, including the nipple.
- Modified radical mastectomy: simple mastectomy plus all or most of the lymph nodes in the armpit are also removed
- Lumpectomy: the surgeon removes the tumor and some breast tissue surrounding the tumor.
- Lymph node surgery: there are two types of surgeries. Axillary lymph node dissection is when all or most of the nodes are removed from the armpit. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is removing the lymph nodes cancer would spread to first.
Breast Surgery Techniques
More advanced surgical procedures are used by some breast surgeons. These include:
- Nipple sparing mastectomy: by using this technique, the surgeon hopes to save the nipple so that after breast reconstruction, the breast will look somewhat natural.
- SAVI SCOUT® device: a small radiofrequency device that is placed into the breast cancer, days, weeks or months before the surgery. The surgeon is able to locate the device during surgery and use it as a guide when performing a lumpectomy.
- LYMPHOSEEK®: a radio-label dye that is injected 30 minutes prior to surgery and helps the surgeon to locate the sentinel lymph nodes. This not only makes it convenient for the patient but helps improve outcomes.
Get Help from a Breast Health Nurse Navigator
Some hospitals like Bronson offer a breast health nurse navigator who helps guide patients through breast cancer treatment. A breast health nurse navigator provides support and works with patients to understand their diagnosis and treatment options. They also help with timely access to appointments and resources, help coordinate doctor appointments, offer education and support before and after surgery, and help find solutions to personal needs and concerns, such as transportation, finances, cosmetic services, nutrition and genetic counseling. The nurse navigator also helps to connect patients with follow-up treatment programs at cancer treatment centers, The American Cancer Society and other community resources.
If a patient has a significant family history of breast, ovarian, pancreatic or metastatic prostate cancer, and especially if it’s close and/or younger family members, the patient should consider seeing a genetic counselor. Other factors included:
- If you are under age 50 and have a diagnosis of breast cancer and no family history.
- If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. This community has an increased risk of having the BRCA gene mutations, which increase their risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer is treated by a team of specialists collaborating together to provide the best care. If you should need radiation and/or chemotherapy, your oncologist will discuss with you the most appropriate plan of care.
If you decide to have immediate breast reconstruction, your breast surgeon will collaborate with your plastic surgeon when scheduling your surgery.
Be proactive. Keep healthy by maintaining a healthy weight, eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, limit the alcohol you drink, control your stress, and get a mammogram every year, especially for women starting at the age of 40.
Comprehensive Breast Health Services at Bronson
Our multidisciplinary team of breast health experts includes specialists who work together to provide the highest quality patient care. The treatment team includes breast surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists specializing in breast imaging and intervention, pathologists, registered mammography technologists, breast and oncology nurse navigators and medical assistants.
Mammograms offered at seven convenient locations with three ways to schedule: schedule online at bronsonhealth.com/mammogram, through Bronson MyChart or call (888) 741-6415. To learn more, visit bronsonhealth.com/breasthealth.