Breast Cancer Awareness Month is recognized nationwide during the month of October. It is an annual health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. The national campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer and their loved ones.
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 National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer in the United States. It can occur in both men and women, but it is very rare in men. Each year there are about 2,300 new cases of breast cancer in men and about 230,000 new cases in women.
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.
To learn more about how the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center treats breast cancer, please click here.