Breast Cancer (Facts, Stages) (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 risk factors for breast cancer?
- What causes breast cancer?
- What are the different types of breast cancer?
- What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
- How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- Definitive diagnosis
- Specialized testing
- What are the stages of breast cancer?
- What is the treatment for breast cancer?
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
- What are the survival rates and prognosis for breast cancer?
- What research is being performed on breast cancer?
- Can breast cancer be prevented?
- Breast Cancer FAQs
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
Surgery is the most common type of treatment for breast cancer. Different surgical treatments may be given. Mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. Breast-conserving surgery, such as lumpectomy or partial mastectomy, can be appropriate for some women. Sentinel lymph node biopsy may be performed to assess whether the cancer has begun to spread to nearby lymph nodes. If the lymph nodes contain cancer, an axillary dissection may be done to remove and examine the nearby lymph nodes.
Reconstructive surgery may be done either at the time of mastectomy or at a later time to rebuild the shape of the breast.
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for women who have had breast-conserving surgery. It is also sometimes given to women who have had a mastectomy. This treatment uses high-energy rays to destroy remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be given externally or internally. External radiation therapy is given in a clinic, usually 5 days a week for several weeks. This is the most common kind of radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer. However, in some cases, internal radiation therapy can be used. This involves the placement of radioactive material directly into the breast tissue through thin tubes. After a short time period the material is removed. This can be repeated on a daily basis for a week. Administering radioactive material inside the body is known as brachytherapy.
Hormone therapy is an effective form of treatment for cancers that are positive for hormone receptors (ER and PR). Hormone therapy is designed to deprive the tumor cells of the hormones they need to grow. Tamoxifen, a drug that interferes with the activity of estrogen in the body, is a common hormone therapy drug. It can be given to both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Studies have shown that taking tamoxifen for 5 years after surgical removal of the tumor improves outcomes in women with ER-positive breast cancer. In postmenopausal women, drugs known as aromatase inhibitors are also used as a form of hormone therapy. Examples of aromatase inhibitors approved by the FDA are anastrozole (Arimidex), letrozole (Femara), and exemestane (Aromasin).
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