Breast Surgical Oncology
Types of Breast Cancer We Treat
Breast cancer is a complex disease with various subtypes that differ in terms of their characteristics, behavior, and treatment options. The main types of breast cancer include:
- Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS): This is a non-invasive type of breast cancer where abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct but have not spread outside the duct. It's often detected through mammograms and has a high survival rate.
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): This is the most common type of invasive breast cancer, arising in the milk ducts and then invading nearby tissues in the breast. It can spread to other parts of the body if not treated.
- Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): This type originates in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast and can also spread to other parts of the body. It's often more challenging to detect through mammograms.
- Medullary Carcinoma: A rare subtype characterized by distinct borders, often mimicking non-cancerous tissue, making it easier to treat and having a better prognosis.
- Tubular Carcinoma: Another uncommon type that features tube-like structures when viewed under a microscope, often associated with a favorable prognosis.
- Mucinous Carcinoma: Also known as colloid carcinoma, this subtype contains mucus-producing cancer cells, typically associated with a slower growth rate and a generally better prognosis.
- Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: This subtype lacks the three most common receptors found in breast cancer cells – estrogen, progesterone, and HER2/neu. It tends to be more aggressive and may have limited treatment options.
- HER2-Positive Breast Cancer: This type overexpresses the HER2/neu protein, which can promote the growth of cancer cells. However, targeted therapies like Herceptin have significantly improved outcomes for this subtype.
- Luminal A and B Subtypes: These are estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancers that are further categorized based on other markers. Luminal A tends to have a better prognosis, while Luminal B is associated with a higher likelihood of recurrence.
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer: This is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer where the breast becomes red, swollen, and warm due to cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin.
- Metastatic Breast Cancer: This refers to cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs, liver, or brain, from its original location in the breast.
- Paget's Disease of the Nipple: This rare type starts in the breast ducts and then spreads to the skin of the nipple and areola. It often presents with symptoms like itching, redness, and flaking of the nipple skin.
Understanding the specific type of breast cancer is crucial for determining the most appropriate treatment plan and prognosis. At Millennium Physicians we tailor therapies to each patient's unique needs, increasing the chances of successful outcomes and improved quality of life.
Breast cancer stage depends on the following:
Stage ranges from Stage 0 (called carcinoma in situ) to Stage IV (tumors that have spread to other parts of the body). The stage and type of breast cancer will help your provider plan your treatment.
Risks associated with breast cancer include:
Men's Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Breast cancer, while more commonly associated with women, can also affect men. Understanding the risk factors for breast cancer in men is essential for early detection and preventive measures. Some of the key risk factors for breast cancer in men include:
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in men over 60 years old.
- Family History: A history of breast cancer in close family members, particularly in first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children), can elevate the risk.
- Genetic Mutations: Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in women, can also raise the risk in men.
- Klinefelter Syndrome: This genetic disorder characterized by having an extra X chromosome (XXY) is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer in men.
- Radiation Exposure: Previous exposure to radiation, especially in the chest area, as part of cancer treatments or other medical procedures, can increase the risk.
- Estrogen Levels: Conditions that lead to higher estrogen levels, such as obesity, liver disease, and certain hormonal treatments, can contribute to breast cancer risk in men.
- Testicular Conditions: Certain testicular conditions, such as undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) or testicular atrophy, may increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Liver Disease: Liver cirrhosis and other liver disorders can disrupt hormonal balance and potentially elevate breast cancer risk.
- Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in men.
- Exposure to Estrogen-Like Substances: Environmental exposure to substances that mimic estrogen, such as some pesticides and industrial chemicals, could contribute to risk.
- Hormone Therapy: Men receiving hormone therapy for prostate cancer may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese is associated with higher estrogen levels, which can influence breast cancer risk.
- Lifestyle Factors: Sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and lack of physical activity may contribute to breast cancer risk.
While some of these risk factors are beyond an individual's control, others, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular medical check-ups, can be proactive steps toward reducing the risk of breast cancer in men. Early detection and awareness are crucial in improving outcomes and ensuring that appropriate medical interventions are administered if needed.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The early stages of breast cancer may not have any signs. As the mass grows in size, it can cause problems like:
Tests To Identify Cancer
Millennium Physicians Cancer Treatment Options
There are many ways to treat breast cancer, but the main types of treatment are local or systemic. Surgery and radiation are used to treat only the cancer. They do not affect the rest of the body.
This is called local treatment. Chemotherapy and hormone treatment drugs go through the whole body. They can reach cancer cells anywhere in the body. They are called systemic treatment.
Local and systemic treatments are both used to treat breast cancer. The treatment which is best for you will depend on the following:
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- If the cancer is in just one area of the breast or more than one area
- Your age
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
- Lumpectomy: Removal of only the part of the breast with cancer and not the entire breast. The mass is removed along with a small area of surrounding normal breast tissue.
- Mastectomy: Removal of the entire breast. This includes the nipple, areola, breast tissue and some of the lymph nodes from under the arm.
- Reconstruction – When the entire breast is removed, the Plastic Surgery team rebuilds it so women can be confident after their breast cancer treatment has been completed
Radiation beams are aimed at the breast from a machine outside the body, called external beam radiation. Radiation treatment typically takes 20 minutes daily from Monday to Friday for 4-6 weeks.
Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy, which means that it travels throughout the whole body to kill cells. These drugs may be given as an infusion or taken as a pill. Chemo is given in cycles or rounds; each round of treatment is followed by a break. Most of the time, two or more chemo drugs are given, and treatment usually lasts for 4-6 months.
Some cancers are fueled by hormones and may rely upon them to grow. In these cases, blocking the action of these hormones can prevent the recurrence of the cancer in the breast and all over the body. Hormone therapy is taken as a pill every day for 5-10 years and is a systemic therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Cancer
Resources for Patients:
Peer Mentorship Program: We have a unique peer mentorship program to connect our patients with other patients who have already beaten a similar type and stage of cancer. Our patients love helping others through the process. For breast surgical oncology services, contact us today.
Patient Navigation: We have a patient navigator who will make sure you get to all your appointments and who will make sure your team of doctors works together for YOU.