Breast Cancer (cont.)
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Breast cancer facts
- What is breast cancer?
- What are the different types of breast cancer?
- What causes breast cancer?
- What are breast cancer risk factors?
- What are breast cancer symptoms and signs?
- How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- How is breast cancer staging determined?
- What is the treatment for breast cancer?
- What is the prognosis of breast cancer?
- Can breast cancer be prevented?
- What research is being done on breast cancer? Should I participate in a clinical trial?
- I may have breast cancer. What questions should I ask my doctor?
- Is the doctor sure I have breast cancer?
- What type of breast cancer do I have?
- What difference does a precise diagnosis make?
- What has been done to exclude cancer in other areas of the same breast or in my other breast?
- What type of medical team do I need for the most accurate diagnosis?
- Is my family history relevant to my breast cancer diagnosis?
- What other studies should be done on my tissue biopsy?
- How urgent is it that I make decisions and begin treatment?
- Should I stop taking hormone therapy (HT)?
- Even though my breast tumor does not have hormone receptors, should I take tamoxifen to reduce the risk of a new tumor?
- I have a ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a type of localized cancer. Why have I been advised to have a mastectomy when other women with invasive cancer have lumpectomies?
- Should I start chemotherapy before surgery?
- If I am advised to have a mastectomy, what are the risks and benefits of immediate breast reconstruction?
- Should my lymph nodes be removed?
- What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy and what are its benefits and risks?
- Are there any other questions I should ask my doctor?
- Breast Cancer FAQs
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What are breast cancer symptoms and signs?
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast. In addition, the following are possible signs of breast cancer:
It is best to detect breast cancer before any of these signs occur by following screening mammography guidelines.
You should discuss these or any other findings that concern you with your health care professional.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
Although breast cancer can be diagnosed by the above signs and symptoms, the use of screening mammography has made it possible to detect many of the cancers early before they cause any symptoms.
The American Cancer Society has the following recommendations for breast cancer screenings:
Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so as long as they are in good health.
- Mammograms are a very good screening tool for breast cancer. As in any test,
mammograms have limitations and will miss some cancers. The results of your
mammogram, breast exam, and family history should be discussed with your
health care professional.
Women should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of regular health exams by a health care professional about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 years of age and over.
- CBE are an important tool to detect changes in your breasts and also trigger a
discussion with your health care professional about early cancer detection and risk
Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health care professional.
If a woman wishes to do BSE, the technique should be reviewed with her health care professional. The goal is to feel comfortable with the way the woman's breasts feel and look and, therefore, detect changes.
Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderate risk (15% to 20%) should talk to their doctor about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.
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