Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the U.S. There are three different types of breast caner, based on where the tumor begins to grow. The most common places for it to begin are in the lobules, the milk producing glands, and the ducts, where the milk transfers to the nipples.
Symptoms of breast cancer vary from patient to patient, with some having none at all, but when they do have symptoms, they may include:
- A new lump in the breast or in the armpit
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- Thickening or swelling of any part of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk
- Pain in any portion of the breast
- Dimpling of breast skin
- Red/flaky skin on any part of the breast
- Pain in nipple
A great deal of progress has been made in early detection and treatment of breast cancer, leading to improved survival rates. Today in the U.S., there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors. As surgery is a treatment method for all stages of breast cancer, it is an aspect of treatment that most women with this illness undergo. There are two main surgical procedures used to remove breast cancer:
- Mastectomy: This surgery involves removing all of the breast tissue, possibly even the surrounding tissue, and can be performed on one breast or on both, called a double mastectomy.
- Lumpectomy: This surgery targets only the part of the breast where the cancer is located. The cancer and some surrounding tissue are removed, but some of the breast tissue remains. For some women with early-stage cancer, this surgery allows her to keep most of her breast, though in many cases, women who choose this route require radiation as well.
Many breast cancer patients are likely to have additional treatments following surgery to help prevent recurrence, or in later stage patients, manage the symptoms. Treatments may include radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy, or some combination of these.Previous Page Last Review Date: April 17, 2020