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
Is the doctor sure I have breast cancer?
Certain types of cancer are relatively easy to identify by standard microscopic evaluation of the tissue. This is generally true for the most common types of breast cancer. This obviously implies that you have had a biopsy that was then reviewed by a pathologist.
However, as the search for earlier and rarer forms of breast cancer progresses, it can be difficult to be certain that a particular group of cells is malignant (cancerous). At the same time, benign conditions may have cells which are somewhat distorted in appearance or pattern of growth (known as atypical cells or atypical hyperplasia). For this reason, it is important that the pathologist reading the slides of your breast biopsy be experienced in breast pathology. Most good pathology groups have multiple pathologists review questionable or troublesome slides. In more difficult cases, the slides will often be sent to recognized specialists with considerable expertise in breast pathology. In difficult cases, it is generally advisable to have an additional pathologist review the tissue slides, and you may ask your physician if this has been done. It is also possible for you to request that your tissue slides be provided to a pathologist of your own choosing for an additional review (see below).
What type of breast cancer do I have?
Breast cancer is not a single disease. There are many types of breast cancer, and they may have vastly different implications. Breast cancers range from localized cancers such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive cancers that can rapidly spread (metastasize). In the middle of the spectrum are breast cancers, such as colloid carcinomas and papillary carcinomas that have a much more favorable outlook (prognosis) than the other more typically invasive breast cancers. Sometimes, noninvasive DCIS is found around invasive breast cancers.
The treatment team should be able to explain what type of cancer you have, how they determined this, and the treatment they recommend.
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