This surgery involves the removal of varying amounts of breast tissue. It is usually performed after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Breast cancer refers to the growth of abnormal cells in the breast. These cells are often referred to as malignant or cancerous. Cancer can develop in any area of the breast, including the:
The two most common areas are the ducts (ductal carcinoma) and lobules (lobular carcinoma).
When breast cancer is only present inside the milk duct (i.e. has not spread to other areas of the breast) it is called noninvasive or “in situ.”
Breast cancer that has spread from its initial location in the ducts or lobules to other areas of the breast is called invasive or infiltrating. The two most common types of invasive breast cancer are infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) and infiltrating lobular carcinoma (ILC).
Estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) and progesterone receptor-positive (PR-positive) breast cancers are sensitive to specific hormones.
Human Epidermal Factor Receptor 2-positive (HER2-positive) breast cancer indicates the presence of a gene that encourages the growth of breast cancer cells.
Triple negative breast cancer is cancer that is negative for both of the hormone receptors (estrogen and progesterone) and human epidermal factor receptor (HER2).
In some cases, cancer cells block lymph vessels in the breast. This blockage leads to a reddened, inflamed breast.
Your healthcare provider will look to see if your breast cancer has spread to other areas of your body. This process is called “staging.” In early cases of breast cancer, spreading of the cancer is quite rare. Therefore, it is usually not necessary to do additional imaging studies to check for other cancers.
Your healthcare provider will need the following clinical information to decide what type of treatment is right for you.ul>
A mastectomy involves the surgical removal of varying amounts of breast tissue, usually after a diagnosis of breast cancer. There are several types of mastectomies. The type your healthcare provider recommends will depend on your specific circumstances and personal preferences. You and the surgeon must consider your breast size, age, family history and general health.
Other surgeries that are not commonly used for breast cancer include:
There are many factors that increase your chance of getting breast cancer. These risks factors can be divided into those that you cannot control and those that you can control or eliminate. Some of the uncontrollable risks factors for breast cancer include:
Some of the controllable risks factors for breast cancer include:
FYI: There are no conclusive links between breast cancer and underwire bras, antiperspirant or breast implants.
Things you can do to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer, or catch it at a very early (curable) stage, include:
There are frequently no symptoms in the early stages of breast cancer. This is why appropriate screening is important. Some of the symptoms that can develop as the cancer grows include:
As the cancer advances, more symptoms can develop. These include:
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of the symptoms noted above. He or she will perform a physical examination of your breasts, underarms, neck and chest. They may also recommend one or more of the following tests:
If you have specific symptoms, or a large cancer, your healthcare provider may also recommend:
The treatment for breast cancer is based on many factors. These factors include:
Treatments for breast cancer are either local (only affects the area of the cancer) or systemic (affects all areas of the body). Local treatments include:
Systemic treatments include:
Treatment for breast cancer usually involves a combination of local and systemic treatments. You may also have more than one type of treatment at a time. Depending on your situation, you may alternate between chemotherapy and radiation before or after surgery.
To get a full range of opinions and perspectives, you may want to consider input from a variety of doctors. This group may include:
If your healthcare provider recommends a mastectomy, prior to the surgery you should tell him or her about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). You should also ask about specific instructions you should follow before and after the surgery. These include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking. Smoking can interfere with your recovery from surgical procedures.
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free. General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia for a mastectomy. With this type of anesthesia, you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear, or feel anything.
It is important to remember that the total cost of this care path does not include all possible medications, lab work or imaging studies. Those charges can add up. If your healthcare provider recommends lab work or imaging studies, you may need to search for their costs separately.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of breast cancer. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you've had them.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a mastectomy?
Before you go home, make sure you understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.
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