November 28, 2015
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Breast Cancer (Facts, Stages) (cont.)

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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, which 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.

What difference does a precise diagnosis make?

The importance of an accurate diagnosis cannot be overstated. It is the precise diagnosis that determines the recommended treatment. Treatment must be specifically tailored to the specific type of breast cancer as well as to the individual patient.

A doctor should be able to give someone a clear description of the type of breast cancer along with the treatment options that are appropriate to one's case.

What has been done to exclude cancer in other areas of the same breast or in my other breast?

Unfortunately, there are some patients who may have more than one area of malignancy in the same breast or even an additional malignancy in the other breast. If this does occur, it can greatly change the recommendations for treatment.

Therefore, it is critically important that your doctors carefully investigate beyond the immediate site of the tumor to make certain there are no other areas with possible malignancy.

Sometimes discovering these "secondary" areas requires careful review of your mammograms. It may also require the addition of special views from different angles and specialized examination of your breasts by ultrasound, MRI, or other imaging techniques. Sometimes imaging techniques will be used to evaluate the rest of your body, as well.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2015


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