Breast cancer is many women’s worst fear. But experts have made great progress in treating cancer. If it is found early, breast cancer can often be cured, and it is not always necessary to remove the breast.
Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both breasts. They can invade nearby tissues and form a mass, called a malignant tumor. The cancer cells can spread (metastasize) to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body.
The earlier breast cancer is found, the more easily and successfully it can be treated. The most common methods for detecting breast cancer include mammograms and clinical breast exams. Digital mammography, the kind offered at the St. Francis Breast Health Center, shows detailed images of the inside of the breast to detect any abnormalities. The St. Francis Breast Health Center also has each digital mammogram image screened by a computer program that can detect patterns and abnormalities that can be invisible to the human eye. If an abnormality is seen, additional imaging, like MRI and Ultrasound, can be used to give more information about the abnormal area.
If you have two or more close family members who have had breast cancer before age 50, you may be interested in St. Francis' Cancer Risk Assessment Program (CRiSP). This program uses family history and genetic testing, like testing for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, to determine a high risk of developing cancer.
Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery, medicine, and radiation therapy. Decisions about how to treat breast cancer are based on a combination of factors that include specific information about the cancer, your preferences, and your health.
Most people with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast. The surgery can remove just the lump, or can be a partial or complete mastectomy. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are also usually removed to find out whether the breast cancer has spread to this area. Bon Secours Medical Group has several experienced, talented surgeons who perform breast surgeries and breast reconstruction. Find a surgeon >>
Even if your doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of your surgery, you may be treated with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to make sure that the breast cancer cells have been destroyed. You may also be given chemotherapy or hormone therapy to shrink your breast cancer before surgery.