Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one of several areas of the breast, including the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, small sacs that produce milk (lobules), and nonglandular tissue. Sometimes breast cancer stays in the tissue in which it began. Bit it can also move into other nearby tissue or lymph nodes.

Breast cancer does not discriminate. It affects mothers, daughters, working women, celebrities — and even some men. For women, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1 in 8; for men it is 1 in 1,000.

Some women are more likely to develop breast cancer than others. They include older women; those who have a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer; those who have previously had breast cancer or a benign breast condition; women with dense breasts; those who have had radiation to the chest or breast; and women who drink a lot of alcohol. Having several risk factors doesn't mean a woman will inevitably develop breast cancer. Likewise, having few risk factors doesn't offer 100% protection against it.

Treatments for breast cancer include removal of the affected breast (mastectomy), removal of the tumor and small amount of surrounding tissue (lumpectomy), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.

Breast Cancer Articles

Excisional Biopsy of the Breast

In an excisional biopsy of the breast, the surgeon makes an incision in the skin and removes all or part of the abnormal tissue for examination under a microscope. Unlike needle biopsies, a surgical biopsy leaves a visible scar on the breast and sometimes causes a noticeable change in the breast's shape. It's a good idea to discuss the placement and length of the incision with your surgeon beforehand. Also ask your surgeon about scarring and the possibility of changes to your breast shape and size after healing, as well as the choice between local anesthesia and general anesthesia. You'll undergo a breast exam and possibly a mammogram before the biopsy to determine where the lump is located. If you are having a sedative with local anesthesia, or if you are having general anesthesia, you'll be asked not to eat anything after midnight on the day before the surgery. Tell your doctor if you're taking insulin, NSAIDs, or any medicine that can affect blood clotting. You might have to stop or adjust the dose of these medicines before your test. (Locked) More »

Large Core Needle Biopsy of the Breast

A biopsy is a tissue sample removed from the body and examined under a microscope. In a breast biopsy, a doctor removes tissue from a suspicious area so that a pathologist can determine whether the tissue contains cancerous cells. At one time, surgeons only performed biopsies by making an incision in the breast and removing the suspicious tissue along with some normal tissue from around it. These surgical biopsies leave scars and may change the size and shape of the breast. Today, doctors can often use newer techniques. These include fine needle aspiration and core needle biopsy, which don't leave scars or change the shape of the breast. This is a significant advantage, because four out of five women who have biopsies do not have cancer. (Locked) More »

Stereotactic Biopsy of the Breast

Stereotactic biopsy of the breast is a special type of large core needle biopsy. It is one method of guiding the biopsy needle to the desired location in the breast. Core needle biopsy can also be guided by ultrasound or by the standard x-ray techniques used in mammography. Large core needle biopsy is often the diagnostic method of choice to evaluate abnormalities that are visible on a mammogram but cannot easily be felt by hand. Core needle biopsy may not be suitable for women who have: In these situations, accurate results from a core needle biopsy may not be possible. Instead, your doctor may recommend a surgical biopsy. (Locked) More »

Wire Localization Biopsy of the Breast

A wire localization biopsy is a type of surgical biopsy. Sometimes an abnormal area will be seen on the mammogram that clearly should be tested for cancer or completely removed from the breast, but this area is not easily felt as a lump on examination. The mammography department can help your surgeon to find the area more easily by using a technique called "wire localization." In this technique, the radiologists (who have had the benefit of seeing the abnormal area on your mammograms) mark the abnormality with a wire that is inserted under your skin into the area of breast that is causing concern. Right afterward, the surgeon can meet you in the operating room and can use the wire to find the abnormal spot in your breast so that he or she can remove it. (Locked) More »

Dealing with high-density breasts

High breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer that is typically detected on a mammogram. The FDA is proposing that mammography facilities tell women if they have high density, but there are no definitive rules in place that tell doctors how to best manage these women to reduce risk. Some strategies you can use if you have high breast density are to have a conversation with your doctor about breast cancer risk and reducing alcohol use. (Locked) More »

Treatments for breast cancer may harm the heart

Women treated for breast cancer may face a heightened risk of heart disease from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. But physicians known as cardio-oncologists can offer strategies to both prevent and treat heart damage from cancer therapy. These include echocardiograms before and after treatment to monitor any possible abnormalities, as well as changes to medications such as statins and blood pressure drugs. Physical activity may also decrease the risk of heart injuries related to breast cancer treatment. (Locked) More »

Study finds weak link between birth control and breast cancer

 Image: © designer491/Getty Images Hormonal birth control — whether it comes as pills, injections, a ring, an intrauterine device (IUD), or an implant — may raise your risk of breast cancer, according to a study published Dec. 7, 2017, in The New England Journal of Medicine. If you're like many women who currently use one of these contraceptive methods, or if you used one for years in the past, should you be worried? (Locked) More »