The Breastlink Beginner’s Guide to Breast Cancer.

Breast Cancer 101 | Guide to Breast CancerAn initial diagnosis of breast cancer is a daunting, emotional experience that can create confusion, uncertainty and a loss of control. As a leader in breast health for more than 21 years our doctors and care team can offer you a chance to regain some control over your life by participating in making educated, fully informed decisions about your care and treatment.

At Breastlink we will fully investigate each patient’s cancer using the latest diagnostic and genomic tools available. This allows for optimal treatment planning with the least amount toxicity and side effects for the future.

Our physicians meet to discuss each woman’s treatment plan including eligibility for innovative research protocols. We believe in tailoring the most current, appropriate treatment to each woman’s situation.

Every patient is unique. Our experience has taught us the process of understanding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment options must be individualized. This is why we have a clearly defined process that emphasizes a comprehensive, collaborative effort with full patient participation. We answer all your questions the first day you walk into our doors. Our doctors and care team will provide a treatment plan, specifically tailored for you, before leaving one of our centers.

Breast Cancer 101 – What is Breast Cancer?

Every human body is composed of trillions of living cells. Each cell contains genetic material, or DNA, which directs that cell to behave in predictable ways. Healthy cells are pre-programmed by DNA to:

what is breast cancer? | Breastlink

  • Replicate, or reproduce, at specified times.
  • Cease replicating at specified times.
  • Occupy only particular parts of the body.
  • Die at a specified time.

Cancer is born when DNA is replicated with an error. Errors to DNA occur somewhat frequently in cells, but cells are often able to self-repair or self-destruct in response to errors. Sometimes, DNA with errors is inherited. However, in most instances, the cause of these errors cannot be identified. Cancer occurs when cells with errors continue to replicate within the body.

Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells:

  • Replicate uncontrollably.
  • Invade parts of the body where they don’t belong.
  • Don’t die when they are supposed to.

Most breast cancers begin in the cells lining ducts, which deliver milk to the nipple from lobules, or milk-producing glands. Some of these cancers are slow-growing and can exist within ducts for years before invading other parts of the body, although their rate of growth depends on many factors.

The process of cancer spreading through the body is called metastasis. Cancers detected early, before metastasis occurs, are generally more easily treated.

Breast Cancer 101 – by the Numbers (United States)

  • Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cause of death among Hispanic women.
  • 232,340 – the number of women estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.
  • 39,620 – the number of women who will die from breast cancer in 2013.
  • 50 percent – the reduction in breast cancer death rates amongst patients diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 2,800,000 – breast cancer survivors in America.

Breast Cancer 101 – by the Numbers (Global Statistics)

  • 522,000 – the number of women who died due to breast cancer in 2012. Breast cancer is now the most common cause of cancer death among women.
  • 1,700,000 – the number of breast cancer diagnoses in 2012.
  • 20 percent – the increase in breast cancer incidence across the world since 2008.
  • 14 percent – the increase in breast cancer mortality across the world since 2008.
  • 1 in 4 cancer diagnoses in women are now for breast cancer.
  • 6,300,000 – the number of women around the world who are alive and been confronted with a diagnosis of breast cancer from 2007-2012.

Breast Cancer 101 – How is Breast Cancer Treated?

Every breast cancer is unique and behaves differently based on type, location, growth and health status. As such, breast cancer treatments should be tailored to the women receiving them. Women may also want to consider highly personal factors, such as emotional well-being and spirituality, before making treatment decisions.

There are several types of treatment commonly used for breast cancer. These include:

  • Surgery — Some type of surgery is performed on most women with breast cancer. It is often required to remove a breast tumor. Mastectomy refers to surgery that removes the entire breast. Breast-conserving surgery, sometimes called partial mastectomy, attempts to remove only the tissue affected by cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy — Radiation therapy is usually performed in women who have received mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. During radiation therapy, radiation is directed toward areas of the body affected by cancer to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy — Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs designed to kill cancer cells. These drugs may be injected or taken orally. Chemotherapy can be administered before or after surgery to remove breast cancer. When administered after surgery, its purpose is to reduce risk of recurrence. When administered before surgery, its purpose is to shrink a breast cancer tumor to make surgery easier.