Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells (a malignant tumor) that begins in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor can invade surrounding tissues and spread to other areas of the body, which is why regular screening is so important. In fact, the five-year survival rate for women whose breast cancer is caught before it spreads outside the breast is 98 percent. Breast cancer can affect both men and women, and many patients have no history of the disease.
The UMMC Cancer Institute breast cancer team includes surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, genetic counselors, fertility specialists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, and others.
The team has experience with many unusual and complex cases and sees women with both early and advanced cancers, as well as those with other complex medical problems. Team members meet as a group each week to review imaging, pathology, and other matters unique to each patient. Together, they consider and discuss a patient's type of cancer, how advanced it is, and other conditions or personal matters that may impact treatment recommendations. Members follow National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines in developing treatment plans.
This team also includes a coordinator who helps guide patients through the ins and outs of cancer treatment, and coordinates their initial appointment.
Contact the breast cancer coordinator to schedule appointments or ask questions beforehand. We’ll work to schedule all of your appointments at the same time to make your care easier and more convenient. Most services will be at the Cancer Institute in the Jackson Medical Mall, but we also provide cancer care on the main campus at University Hospital and the University Physicians Pavilion.
Detecting breast cancer in its earliest stage is the key to beating the disease. For women over 40, an annual screening mammogram offers the best chance for detecting cancer early. UMMC offers several screening options, including high-definition 3-D mammography.
UMMC offers leading-edge technology and treatment for breast cancer, including an array of surgical options such as lumpectomy, simple mastectomy, radical mastectomy, prophylactic mastectomy, and breast reconstruction. Our radiation oncologists offer whole breast irradiation, chest wall and regional nodal irradiation, and accelerated partial breast irradiation. In addition, they work with our medical oncologists to provide combined chemotherapy and radiation for those patients requiring it prior to surgery. Our medical oncologists provide standard chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, and clinical trials, when appropriate.
Cancer is an emotional, trying time for you and your family, and our job is to help you through it. Whether you need financial assistance or advice, help with a wig fitting, counseling or a support group, or any other social or medical services, your nurse coordinator can quickly connect you to the care you’re looking for.
Before being treated, your team will determine the type of breast cancer you have, the stage it is in, and how far it has progressed. If a tumor is found, your doctors will want to know its grade, or how abnormal the cells look, and how many are dividing. Most of this information will be found in the pathology report.
Staging is a way of gauging how far a cancer has spread. You may hear the word metastasized, which means the cancer has moved beyond your breast. Stages run from 0 to IV. The higher the stage, the more advanced the cancer. That stage of cancer you’re in affects the type of treatment your doctors recommend.
This is a cancer of the soft tissues of the body including muscles, cartilage, fat, or bone. When this occurs in breast tissue, swelling, or a lump may appear.
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The most common type of breast cancer starts in the lining of the breast ducts, breaks though the ducts into the breast fatty tissue, and may spread from there. More than two-thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer have ductal carcinoma. These can be ER and/or PR positive, HER2 positive, or triple negative.
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DCIS is a noninvasive cancer in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct, a tube that carries milk to the nipple. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other breast tissues. About 90 percent of those treated recover. If untreated, some types of DCIS may change over time into ductal carcinoma.
This cancer begins in the lobules, the glands that make milk, and then spreads to surrounding tissue. It is also called infiltrating lobular carcinoma. About 15 percent of breast cancers are lobular carcinoma. It may be hard to find with a physical exam or on a mammogram, and is often ER and PR positive.
This is a condition in which abnormal cells are found only in the lobules. It hasn't spread. LCIS usually doesn't become invasive lobular cancer, but if you have LCIS in one breast, it increases your risk of developing invasive cancer in either breast later in life.
Individuals who are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer, or having cancer reoccur, require more frequent screenings and observation. Based off of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommendations, a high risk for breast cancer includes men or women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, a close family history with breast cancer, a prior diagnosis breast cancer, among other guidelines. Patients with one or more risk factors are typically screened earlier and more often.
Inflammatory breast cancer may cause the breast to look red and swollen and feel warm. The skin of the breast also may show the pitted appearance called peau d'orange (“orange peel” or like the skin of an orange). The redness and warmth occur because the cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin. This is an aggressive form of breast cancer.
These cancers do not have estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors. They also don’t have excess copies of the HER2 gene or excess HER2 proteins on the cancer cell surfaces. Triple negative breast cancers tend to grow fast and spread faster than other types of breast cancer. This type predominately affects young women and African-American women.