Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Offered at Mercy in Baltimore
Breast cancer is a cancer that develops in the breast tissue. Although there are several types of breast cancer, the most common forms originate within the milk ducts.
Breast cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, especially when it is detected in its earliest stages.
The most important breast cancer risk factors are:
- Increasing age
- Strong family history of breast cancer
Lifestyle choices that can increase breast cancer risk:
- Lack of exercise
- Alcohol abuse
- Use of some hormonal therapies
Women with an increased risk for breast cancer need to be followed closely with frequent breast exams and mammograms. Options for additional imaging with MRI should be discussed with your doctor. There are also medications that reduce the risk for developing breast cancer – Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (Evista™). Some women may be candidates for genetic testing. Women at the greatest risk may be candidates for a bilateral preventive mastectomy.
Breast self-exams and mammograms are important because early stages of breast cancer typically do not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows breast cancer symptoms can include:
- Breast lump
- Nipple discharge
- Changes in the breast including changes to the size, shape or feel of the breast or nipple
If you experience symptoms of breast cancer and changes in your breast you should see your doctor. Most breast changes are not as a result of cancer, however, they should be evaluated by your doctor. Your doctor may recommend additional screenings and/or biopsies to help determine whether or not cancer is present.
Breast cancer screenings and biopsies offered at Mercy through the radiologists of The Tyanna O’Brien Center for Women’s Imaging include:
- Screening mammogram
- Diagnostic mammogram
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast MRI
- Minimally invasive breast biopsies
- Needle localization procedures
If your breast doctor confirms the presence of cancer, he or she will determine the stage (extent) of cancer. Breast cancer staging helps in selecting the best treatment options for your case. Breast cancer stages can range from 0 to IV.
Reading your pathology report and understanding your type of cancer can be confusing.
Breast cancer treatment typically involves more than one therapy and is dependent on the stage, type of cancer, your overall health and your personal preference.
The doctors of The Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy in Baltimore offer comprehensive breast cancer treatment including:
- Surgical Treatment– breast conserving surgery- lumpectomies and partial mastectomies, mastectomies, skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies before immediate breast reconstruction
- Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy- to determine the spread of the cancer to lymph nodes and remove them only when necessary
- Reconstructive Surgery- breast reconstruction surgery including DIEP flap breast reconstruction and breast implant reconstruction, allowing for a natural look and feel
- Post-Surgical Treatment of Lymphedema- proactive and intensive treatment for a commonly occurring complication following breast surgery
- Chemotherapy- drugs given typically intravenously to kill cancer cells
- Hormonal Therapy- drugs that kill cancer cells by blocking the natural hormones they need to grow
- Targeted Therapy- drugs used to kill a very specific protein, present in some breast cancers
- Radiation Therapy- external beam radiotherapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy and brachytherapy – used to remove and reduce the growth of cancer cells
- IORT (Intraoperative Radiotherapy)- a ground-breaking breast radiation option in which radiation is given in only one dose during the breast surgery