Breast cancer means abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both breasts. These cancer cells can spread from the breast to nearby lymph nodes and other tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body. The type and stage of cancer you have is based on:
Tests that help find the stage of your cancer can help choose the right treatment for you. These tests can include a breast biopsy, lymph node biopsy, blood tests, and X-rays. You may need other tests as well, such as a bone, CT, or MRI scan. Whether you have more tests depends on your symptoms and the stage of the cancer.
When you find out that you have cancer, you may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Your doctor may combine treatments. This is a common way to treat breast cancer. Treatment depends on what type and stage of cancer you have. You may have:
Surgery is a key part of treatment for breast cancer. The main types of surgeries are:
If lymph nodes under the arm are removed, they are looked at under the microscope to check for cancer. There are two types of lymph node removal:
The type of surgery you have depends on the size, location, and type of the cancer. It also depends on your overall health and personal preferences.
Even if your doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of your surgery, you may still need more treatment. You may get radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy after surgery to try to kill any cancer cells that may be left.
No matter what kind of surgery you have, you will get information about why you are having it, what its risks are, how to prepare, and what to do after surgery.
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Current as of: July 26, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
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