What to Expect with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

| Patient Education

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when healthy cells begin to grow out of control and form a tumor in the breast tissue. A diagnosis of breast cancer often comes with feelings of anxiety and confusion; there are different types and stages of breast cancer and many different treatment options as a result. We’re here to walk you through your specific diagnosis, treatment options, and systems of support.

Physician and patient discuss options together

Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer presents itself in various forms, each with its own characteristics and challenges. Understanding these different types is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment. From the prevalent ductal carcinoma to the challenging triple negative and rare inflammatory breast cancer, exploring these distinctions helps us provide compassionate care to those affected.

Ductal Carcinoma

One of the most frequently encountered forms of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, originating in the milk duct lining. Most of these cancers are driven by the estrogen hormone. These carcinomas can be either invasive or in situ. In the case of invasive ductal carcinoma, the cancer has extended beyond the ducts to other areas of the breast tissue. Accounting for approximately 70-80% of all breast cancers, invasive ductal carcinomas require special attention. On the other hand, in situ ductal carcinomas imply that the tumor in the ducts is non-invasive or pre-invasive, offering reassurance that the cancer is unlikely to spread.

Triple Negative

A less common form of breast cancer is triple-negative breast cancer, which constitutes 10-15% of diagnoses. The term "triple negative" signifies that the cancer cells lack estrogen or progesterone receptors and do not express the HER2 protein. These particular cancers may present challenges in treatment, and they are more prevalent among women under 40 and Black women, warranting heightened concern and specialized care.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Among the rarer types of breast cancer is inflammatory breast cancer, distinguished by cancer cells obstructing lymph vessels in the skin, resulting in an "inflamed" appearance of the breast. This form accounts for only 1-5% of breast cancers but demands greater attention due to its heightened aggressiveness and rapid spread. Offering support and immediate intervention is crucial in addressing this less common yet more challenging variant.

Surgery and Treatment Options

Supporting your journey towards recovery, various treatment options are available for breast cancer. Surgery is important for early-stage breast cancer. Patients may choose to have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy to remove the cancer. In addition to surgery, treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted agents,
and endocrine therapies may be indicated depending on the specific type and stage of the cancer. Radiation therapy employs targeted high-energy photon beams to disrupt cancerous cells, while chemotherapy involves the administration of drugs orally or intravenously to combat cancer cell growth. Determining the most suitable treatment option for you hinges upon factors like the specific type and stage of your breast cancer.

Your Cancer Center Providers

Our cancer center has a team that will take time to get to the bottom of your health concerns for effective treatment and improved quality of life.

Dr Jordan Maryfield

Jordan C. Maryfield, MD

Medical Oncology, Hematology View Info »

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