While the end of Breast Cancer Awareness month comes to a close, every year, new information on the disease is publicized to increase everyone’s awareness. And this information transcends year round.
Women are becoming better informed regarding the three types of breast cancer which exist: non-invasive, invasive and inflammatory. It’s important to note that men are also being diagnosed with this disease, as well.
Treatment for cancer is dependent on the stage and may include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Each patients is different as is their treatment.
A non-invasive diagnosis means the cancer cells have not spread into other areas of the body. If the carcinoma is “in situ, the term means cancer has been found only where it originated. Ductal carcinoma refers to cancer in the milk ducts as opposed to lobular carcinoma found in the lobules of the breast.
The “in situ” stage is the earliest form of breast cancer. In either location, options in treatment depend on whether or not there is a history of breast cancer in the patient’s family and if she has had genetic testing.
One option an oncologist may recommend is testing a lymph node near the affected breast to make sure the cancer has not advanced to the lymph system.
When the cancer cells have traveled to neighboring tissue, it is called invasive. This diagnosis calls for the removal and testing of several lymph nodes. Since the invasive type of cancer can travel through the lymphatic system and the bloodstream, an oncologist needs to determine how far the cancer cells have spread before advising a course of treatment.
Reconstructive plastic surgeons can be helpful in providing options when one or both breasts need to be removed due to cancer. Finding a board certified plastic surgeon who can perform breast reconstruction is crucial.
The rare third type of cancer found in the breast, inflammatory, is generally not picked up on a mammogram; it has a sheet-like form rather than a nodule. This cancer interferes with the flow of lymph fluid causing symptoms which may include inflammation, redness, warmth and tenderness. The area may have an appearance such as a rash or possibly a bug bite.
If a woman notices any changes during a monthly breast self-exam, she should consult her doctor for advice and support. With so much knowledge about the disease, and an array of possibilities regarding reconstruction surgery, women are more empowered than ever about breast cancer.