Breast Cancer

Understanding and knowing more about breast cancer will assist you in choosing the best choices for your surgeon, type of breast surgery and your treatment plan. The outlook for treatment today is hopeful since there are more advanced and better treatment options available.

Our expert breast surgeons in our practice in Connecticut are eminently qualified to assist you in making the right decisions and care for you in a compassionate and comprehensive way.

Cancer cells are different from normal cells. They can divide and spread uncontrollably. Within time, some of these cells can spread beyond the breast to other areas of the body.

The two main types of breast cancer are:

Rarely will cancer develop in other areas of the breast.

Men can develop breast cancer with symptoms that include a breast lump, breast pain, and tenderness.

Breast cancer can be invasive or noninvasive:

Symptoms

Early Breast Cancer

Symptoms are not always present when early breast cancer develops. Breast exams are very important for early detection of the disease. As cancer develops and the symptoms do begin to appear, they can include:

Advanced Breast Cancer

Symptoms of advanced breast cancer can include:

Although less common, men can develop breast cancer with symptoms that may include a breast lump, breast pain, and tenderness.

Medical Evaluation

Should you notice a change or lump in your breast, it should be examined without delay. A physical exam and diagnostic tests will be performed to determine the cause.

History and Physical Examination

We will ask you for a complete medical history that will include questions regarding the time you discovered the lump and if there were any changes to the lump, questions concerning your period, pregnancies, prior breast problems, if any, and if you’re using birth control pills or HRT. Our surgeon will perform a clinical breast exam, using gentle pressure to feel your breast tissue for lumps and other changes as well as a comprehensive evaluation and physical to check your overall health.

Diagnostic tests will provide additional information about the change in your breasts. You may have one or more of the following tests.

Biopsy

Following the examination and diagnostic tests, a biopsy may be recommended. The biopsy procedure removes a sample of tissue from the breast lump. The cells in this tissue are studied for the presence of cancer. The type of biopsy you may have is contingent upon the size and location of the lump.

Percutaneous Biopsy

Needles or special probes are used to remove samples through the skin. This is usually performed in our office or in an outpatient setting. If on examination the lump is not palpable an image-guided biopsy is performed.

Fine Needle Aspiration

This is the simplest form of biopsy requiring no anesthesia and is used to sample cells of lumps that can be felt. They can be fluid-filled cysts or solid masses.

Core Needle Biopsy

A core needle biopsy will provide a larger sample than a fine needle biopsy. This can be used for solid masses that can be felt as well as breast changes that can’t be felt. All biopsy samples are sent to a lab for study.

Image-Guided Biopsy

An image-guided biopsy is performed if a lump or breast change is unable to be felt. This procedure is performed in the Radiology Department of the hospital. Computer mapping guided by mammograms is used to pinpoint the breast changes. Ultrasounds can also be used to locate breast changes. A core needle is used to take tissue samples once the change is located. A vacuum-assisted probe may sometimes be used. This procedure is similar to a core needle biopsy but the probe is only inserted once.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

This procedure is performed to see if the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. The first node that the fluid passes through in a group of lymph nodes is called the sentinel lymph node. The sentinel nodes are the first lymph nodes to which the cancer cells in the breast tumor are most likely to spread. Lymph node tissue is removed to search for the presence of cancer. If cancer is found in the sentinel lymph node at the time the biopsy procedure is being performed, additional surgery will be required to remove additional lymph nodes. A dye or tracer is injected in the area with the breast tumor. A camera (lymphoscintigraphy) is used to take pictures of the lymph nodes. The first lymph node or nodes that will absorb the dye or tracer are called the sentinel nodes. Once found, the sentinel node(s) are removed to look for the presence of cancer cells.

When to Call the Doctor

We ask that you call us in the event the following should occur following any of the procedures:

Surgical Biopsy

A larger sample of tissue can be removed with a surgical breast biopsy. Most often, the entire lump will be removed. Should the breast change be a result of tiny deposits of calcium (microcalcifications), then tissue containing the calcifications will be removed. Most surgical biopsies are done on an outpatient basis.

It is difficult to locate a breast change that cannot be felt. In such a situation one or more guidewires might be placed in the breasts prior to the biopsy procedure. These are thin wires that are used to mark the tissue that has to be removed. A mammogram or ultrasound is used to direct the placement of the wires. Before the wire is inserted, the area is numbed. During the biopsy procedure, the wire is removed.

When to Call the Doctor

We ask that you call us in the event the following should occur:

The Treatment of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can be treated in several ways. Factors affecting the decision-making process include the extent of cancer and your feelings as well as your needs. Some of the factors determining the treatment include:

Treatments

Cancer treatment can be either local (only the area of the disease) or systemic (the entire body). Examples of local treatments are surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy is a form of systemic treatment.

Treating Different Stages of Breast Cancer

Most women will receive a combination of treatments.

Some women will continue to have treatment after the initial plan is completed. Blood tests, mammograms and other tests are standard means of continued future treatment and follow up.

Reconstructive breast surgery for women who have mastectomies can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy or at a later date. In many cases, the restorative procedure is covered by insurance.

Support Groups

Breast Cancer It can be extremely overwhelming to learn that you have breast cancer. Other women can be a tremendous source of support and information when you share common experiences and problems. Joining a support group for women with breast cancer can help ease the situation and help you cope. The following organizations can help you learn more about the disease:

Prognosis

People with breast cancer are living longer than before with the advent of new and improved treatments. How well you do after treatment is contingent upon several factors. Our team will review the factors of your case and discuss the potential risk of possible recurrence with you.

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Bridgeport, CT, 06606
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