There’s been a lot of talk about breast cancer in the media and for good reason. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lives. Furthermore, over 270,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2020 with over 42,000 anticipated deaths. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women. With these alarming statistics, breast cancer prevention should be at the forefront of every woman’s mind.
What Is Breast Cancer?
Effective prevention begins with understanding what breast cancer is. Breast cancer begins when the cells grow in the breast at a rapid rate and usually form a tumor that feels like a lump. Most breast lumps are benign and not harmful known as non-cancerous abnormal growths. Fortunately, these are not life-threatening but some may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Breast cancer can start from different areas of the breast:
- Most breast cancers originate in ducts that transfer the milk to the nipple.
- Many populate in the glands of the breast.
- Other less common breast cancers begin in the connective tissue called phyllodes tumors and angiosarcoma.
- A small group of cancers can begin in other breast tissues called sarcomas and lymphomas.
Most cancers a lump is formed in the breast but not all in all cases. Regardless of whether they do or not, breast cancer can spread into the blood or lymph system. Lymph nodes are part of the lymph system connected by vessels that contain clear fluid made up of waste material and immune cells. This system is responsible for carrying this fluid, also called lymph, away from the breast to your body’s lymph nodes. When diagnosed with breast cancer, cancer cells enter the lymph vessels and begin to grow in the lymph nodes. Most of the lymph vessels connected to the breast transfer to lymph nodes located under the arm, above the collar bone, and near the breast bone. If cancer has made it to the lymph nodes, chances are higher that those cells increase to other parts of the body.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Depending on the location of breast cancer, treatment options may vary. Some of those options include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and radiation therapy. It may not always be as drastic as complete breast removal, also referred to as a mastectomy procedure. A more thorough mastectomy definition is the surgical removal of one or both breasts partially, or completely. Alternative surgery treatment options include partial mastectomy or lumpectomy that don’t require complete removal of breast tissue.
- Lumpectomy – This procedure is a surgical operation in which a lump is removed from the breast when cancer has not spread. It is a kind of partial mastectomy referred to as a breast saving surgery allowing you to keep most of your breast tissue while removing cancer. A more detailed lumpectomy definition may include the removal of lymph nodes under the arm and part of the chest wall lining if cancer is near it. Lumpectomy recovery may last anywhere from a few days to a whole week due to a number of factors. If no lymph node biopsy is conducted, your recovery time is likely to be shorter. Typically, it’s safe to resume normal activities like exercising and work after a week. However, if a lymph node biopsy is done, lumpectomy recovery time will be longer.
- Partial mastectomy – Often used interchangeably with a lumpectomy, a partial mastectomy is a less invasive surgery meant to conserve most of the breast tissue while removing as much of cancer as possible. Usually combined with other treatments, a partial mastectomy depends on tumor size, tumor location, breast size, number of tumors, age, family history, general health, and how much of the breast has been affected. Each patient will have an individualized plan tailored to their circumstances.
Request an Appointment
Are you or a loved one diagnosed with breast cancer and looking into treatment options? At the Breast Cancer Center Miami, we are seasoned experts in breast health. We are here to support you with advanced surgical techniques, board-certified physicians, comprehensive evaluations, and genetic counseling. We perform lumpectomies and can help you through this stage of your health journey. Request an appointment today.