Uncontrolled growth of cells lining the breast lobules or ducts can cause breast cancer. It can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Most breast cancer cases occur in women, but men can also occasionally be diagnosed with it. It can begin in either one or both of the breasts.
Breast cancer may originate in different parts of the breast. The three significant tissue structures of the breast include lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. Lobules are the glands that generate milk. Ducts transport milk from the breast to the nipples. Connective tissue consists of fibrous and fatty tissue that supports breast cells. Breast cancer usually starts in the ducts or lobules and spreads to other body parts through blood and lymph vessels. Breast cancer is said to have metastasized when it spreads to other parts of the body.
Breast cancers are classified according to the type of cells that become cancerous in the breast.
Breast cancer is of two types: invasive and non-invasive. Some non-invasive cancers take time to grow, while invasive cancers are more aggressive. Non-invasive breast cancer types (ductal carcinoma in situ) are confined to the ducts and do not invade the surrounding tissues. The biological makeup, tumor size, and cancer stage may determine how aggressive a tumor is.
Most breast cancers are invasive, which means the disease has migrated from the initial site to other parts of the body, such as neighboring breast tissue, lymph nodes, or other organs. Breast cancer cells that are invasive (infiltrating) break through usual breast tissue barriers and spread through the body through blood circulation or lymph nodes. The kinds of invasive breast cancer are as below.
IDC is a type of breast cancer that begins in a milk duct (the tubes in the breast that transport milk to the nipple) and spreads to other regions of the breast. It may spread to other places of the body over time or metastasize. This type is the most prevalent kind of breast cancer.
ILC is the second most frequently diagnosed form of breast cancer. ILC begins in the lobules (where breast milk is produced) and spreads to the surrounding breast tissue. This malignancy is more difficult to detect during a mammogram and other tests than IDC. Both breasts are impacted in one out of every five women with ILC.
Inflammatory breast cancer, which can be found in the ducts or lobules, tends to spread more than other types of breast cancer. According to the National Malignancy Institute, this fast-growing, aggressive form of cancer accounts for 1 to 5% of breast cancers in the United States.
Paget's disease of the breast, also known as Paget's disease of the nipple, is a considerably less prevalent kind of breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, it affects between 1-4% of people who have been diagnosed with another type of breast cancer. It grows in the skin of the nipple and areola, forming Paget cells, which are distinctive tumor cells.
Metaplastic breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer with a less than 1% prevalence rate. It rapidly spreads to other regions of the body. It is challenging to treat and has a poor prognosis rate.
Breast cancer symptoms may differ from person to person. However, the most typical symptom is a lump or mass on the breast or in the armpit. However, not all breast lumps are cancerous. Other warning signs for breast cancer are:
However, these symptoms are not necessarily indications of cancer. Please visit your health practitioner for any additional screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
Breast cancer treatment options can be divided into two types of treatments -
In the case of localized breast cancer treatment, doctors treat the tumor without impacting the rest of the body. This treatment includes the following
Most patients undergo breast cancer surgery for various reasons and as recommended by their oncologists.
This surgery removes cancerous cells of the breast. The area removed depends on the size and location of the tumor. It is also called lumpectomy, quadrantectomy, partial mastectomy, or segmental mastectomy.
The entire breast, along with other tissues, is removed. Sometimes both the breasts are also removed, which is known as a double mastectomy.
Lymph nodes are dissected and sent to the lab for further investigations. This surgery is performed to determine the stage and spread of breast cancer.
The surgical process is adequate treatment for most small-sized Stage 1 breast cancer cases.
In radiation therapy for breast cancer, high-energy rays or particles are used to destroy the cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy and internal beam radiotherapy (Brachytherapy) are two main types of radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer.
Stage 2 breast cancer treatment usually includes both surgery and radiation therapy.
Systemic treatment includes the usage of drugs that destroy cancer cells. These drugs can be transported to cancer cells through various modes like through oral ingestion, injected into muscles, or via the bloodstream. Different types of drugs are used depending on the type of breast cancer:
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs, which are injected intravenously or taken orally. Then the drug travels through the bloodstream to reach the cancerous cells. If cancer spreads to the Cerebro-spinal fluid (protective fluid in the spine and brain), chemotherapy can be given directly to this area - this process is called Intrathecal Chemotherapy.
Hormone or endocrine therapy can be used when breast cancer cells have hormone receptors (proteins) like estrogen and progesterone. Hormone therapy blocks the hormones from binding to the cancer cells or reduces the production of hormones in the body. It then prevents the growth of cancerous cells.
Targeted Drug therapy is used on certain types of breast cancers that exhibit specific target proteins. These proteins help cancerous cells to grow abnormally. Targeted drug therapy aims at these target cells, thereby destroying cancerous cells or preventing their growth.
Immunotherapy boosts the individual’s immune system - enabling it to identify and kill cancer cells effectively. Immunotherapy drugs alter the receptors on the cell surface, which helps the immune system differentiate between normal and cancerous cells, balancing the body's immune response.
Stage IV or metastatic breast cancer treatment includes a combination of all the above treatment modalities.
After the initial visual screening, various modalities are used to conclude an accurate breast cancer diagnosis. The primary care physician may refer you to a breast cancer surgeon to conduct specialized testing and imaging to determine a precise diagnosis.
In a biopsy, your breast cancer doctor numbs the area to take a sample of breast tissue or fluid, which is later investigated under a microscope to establish the nature of the disease. There are 3 different types of biopsies - Fine needle aspiration, core biopsy, and surgical biopsy.
Mammograms are the primary screening tool used to diagnose breast cancer. Mammography uses low-energy X-rays to determine the early stages of cancer by detecting micro-calcifications.
Breast Ultrasound is a safe, painless procedure where sonograms (sound waves) are used for imaging breast cells. An ultrasound can easily detect fluid-filled cysts that are difficult to diagnose on mammograms.
Breast MRI uses strong magnetic and radio waves to take multiple detailed pictures of the inside of the breast on a computer. It helps in determining the size and number of tumors inside the breast.
If you are looking for experienced breast cancer doctors in Florida, then speak to experts at ACTC. The breast cancer oncologists at ACTC are dedicated to providing exceptional patient care - prescribing effective personalized and evidence-based treatment plans for their patients. We strive to create a positive environment for patients and their families throughout their cancer journey. We have some of the most skilled breast cancer specialists working on our team.
The following are our providers who you can consult at ACTC:
MD, Radiation Oncologist
MD, Ph.D., Hematology/Medical Oncology
MD, Radiation Oncology
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer and are looking for treatment options, a random internet search for breast cancer center near me may not be the best option. Ensure you discuss treatment options with your primary care provider, who can in turn refer you to ACTC.
As one of Florida's leading breast cancer centers, we understand how a cancer diagnosis and treatment impact a person's physical and emotional well-being. Therefore, we work hard to make patients and their families feel secure. We provide comprehensive treatment for all forms of breast cancer at ACTC, including screening, diagnosis, staging, treatment, and long-term follow-up, all in one convenient location. Our breast cancer doctors are backed up by qualified clinical staff with over two decades of experience and a reputation for providing personalized treatment.
Your form has been sent successfully.
Early warning signs include a new lump in the breast or armpit areas, itchy breasts, sudden increase in size or shape of breast, flaky skin, or change in color of breasts.
Risk factors for breast cancer include inherited genetic mutation (BRCA gene), family history, race and ethnicity, previous history of breast cancer, never having children, and having dense breasts.
According to the American Cancer Society, non-cancerous conditions produce similar signs and require investigations to rule out malignant tumors. The benign conditions that can be mistaken as breast cancer are - Ductal lobular hyperplasia, Lobular carcinoma in situ, Adenosis, Fibroadenoma, Phyllodes tumor, Intraductal papillomas, Fat necrosis and oil cysts, Mastitis, Duct Ectasia.
If you are based in (or near) Florida, you can schedule a consultation with an ACTC cancer specialist by calling 352-345-4565 or by completing the online form here. (we can provide a link to the form here)