Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from cells in the breast. More commonly breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less commonly, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast. Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes, small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body.
According to the 2019 American Cancer Society Cancer Facts and Statistics, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It can occur in both men and women, but it is very rare in men. In 2019 there were about 1,500 new cases of breast cancer in West Virginia and about 268,000 new cases in the United States.
According to the American Cancer Society, some warning signs of breast cancer include:
– A lump or pain in the breast
– Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
– Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
– Redness or flaky skin on the breast
– Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
– Fluid other than breast milk from the nipple, especially blood
– A change in the size or shape of the breast
Screening Options for Breast Cancer
There are numerous cancer screenings that can save lives and prevent tumor development (colonoscopies for colon cancer, CT scans for lung cancer, skin cancer screenings, etc.), but two screenings that greatly affect women’s lives are Pap tests for cervical cancer and mammograms for breast cancer.
A Pap test (or Pap smear) is a test of a sample of cells taken from a woman’s cervix or vagina during a pelvic exam. The test is used to look for changes in the cells of the cervix or vagina and it is the best tool to detect precancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer.
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. The results are recorded on x-ray film or directly into a computer for a doctor called a radiologist to examine. A mammogram allows the doctor to have a closer look for changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt during a breast exam and it is currently the most widely practiced type of examination of female breasts as a means to detect abnormal changes in the tissue.
If you or a loved one is interested in more information about mammogram’s, click the button below to read about some things to know about getting a mammogram.
How Our Team Treats Breast Cancer
At the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), we use radiation therapy to treat breast cancer. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is the most common type of radiation therapy for women with breast cancer. EBRT is administered with a linear accelerator (LINAC) that generates and delivers high-energy X-ray beams to the breast cancer. It destroys cancer cells, while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Treatments require no hospitalization, only take about 10 to 15 minutes, and are painless and safe. Side effects are usually minimal and most patients return to routine activities immediately after each treatment.
Radiation Oncology Services at CAMC’s Advantage
Speak with one of our dedicated Team Members about how we can help today.