Delta Medix Patient General Information

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer forms in the tissues of the breast, usually in the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). Breast cancer may occur in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. The breasts also contain lymph vessels connected to small, round masses of tissue called lymph nodes. Groups of lymph nodes are near the breast in the underarm (axilla), above the collarbone, and in the chest behind the breastbone.

Breast cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor. They may enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which into all tissues of the body. The cancer cells may be found in the lymph nodes near the breast, and may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.

Early breast cancer usually does not cause symptoms. As the tumor grows however, it can change how the breast looks or feels.

The common changes include

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in the shape or size of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Fluid from the nipple, especially if it is bloody
  • Red or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or the areola (the dark area of skin at the center of the breast). The skin may have ridges so that it looks like the skin of an orange.

Doctors recommend that women have regular clinical breast exams and mammograms to find breast cancer early.

Treatment Options for Breast Cancer

  • Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. In breast-sparing surgery only the cancer is removed. A mastectomy is an operation to remove the entire breast. The surgeon may remove one or more lymph nodes from under the arm to check for cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy uses high- energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used after surgery to destroy breast cancer cells that remain in the area. The two types of radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer are:
    • External radiation therapy: The treatment comes from a large machine outside the body. Treatments are usually five days a week for four to six weeks. External radiation is the most common type used for breast cancer.
    • Internal radiation therapy (Brachytherapy): This is a form of treatment where a source of radiation (seeds) is put inside your body in or near the cancer cells. This allows treatment with a high dose of radiation to a smaller part of your body.
  • Hormone therapy may also be called anti-hormone treatment. If laboratory tests show that the tumor in your breast has hormone receptors, then hormone therapy may be an option. Hormone therapy keeps cancer cells from using the natural hormones (estrogen and progesterone) they need to grow.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs that treat breast cancer e usually given through a vein (intravenously) or as a pill. You will probably receive a combination of drugs.
  • Targeted Therapy uses drugs that block the growth of breast cancer cells.