Although 1 in 3 of all new cancer cases diagnosed each year in women is breast cancer, at no point in history has the survival rate from breast cancer been better. The overall survival from this terrible illness is now about 90%. This means if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, chances are you will survive and get better. Thanks to periodic mammograms and early detection, if someone is diagnosed with breast cancer today, it will most likely be early stage, which is usually treatable.
Even for women diagnosed at more advanced stages of breast cancers, there are a growing number of cutting-edge treatments available that have improved the survival rate, with more on the horizon. At Magnolia Breast Center, we are using advanced and relatively less invasive treatment, targeted therapy, and breast-conserving surgery, while also providing more options for reconstruction than ever before.
Your Breast Cancer Treatment Options
After getting the breast cancer diagnosis, talking to your doctor about how to treat it will be one of the most important conversations you’ll have. Your treatment options will be based on factors such as:
- Your age, menopausal status, and overall health.
- The stage and type of your cancer (triple negative breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma, etc.).
- Whether your tumor has specific gene mutations or biomarkers (such as HER2 status).
- Whether the cancer is hormone-sensitive.
- Your personal preferences.
At Magnolia Breast Center, we offer the following diagnostic and treatment options under the leadership of Dr. Patterson (a board-certified medical oncologist with over three decades of experience), Dr. Sharla Gayle Patterson (the only surgeons in South West Florida certified by the American Society of Breast Surgeons in both stereotactic- and ultrasound-guided breast biopsies).
Breast Cancer Treatment
There are a number of advanced options to treat cancer, including targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. It’s not uncommon to receive a combination of different treatments after the doctors diagnose breast cancer. The right option for you depends on a variety of considerations, as we mentioned earlier, such as the size, type, and location of the tumor, to name a few.
Your Magnolia Breast Center team will tailor your treatment plan based on your unique health needs. The goal of the treatment is to not only kill cancer cells in the breast, but to keep them from growing back.
Breast Cancer Surgery
Surgery is often the most effective option in cases of localized breast cancer. It’s the primary treatment to remove breast cancer, as long as it is technically possible to remove the diseased tissue.
Surgery can be used to remove a sole tumor from the breast or the entire breast altogether to get rid of cancer. The type of surgery recommended for you will depend on several factors, including your general health, how advanced the cancer is, and what kind of cancer it is. Depending on your situation, it’s possible that breast cancer surgery is just one part of your treatment plan.
Genetic counseling gives you an opportunity to learn if your breast cancer or your family history of breast cancer is a result of an inherited genetic mutation. In some cases, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are encouraged to get genetic counseling to help guide their treatment.
Scientists have been studying the genetic makeup of families with an unusual frequency of breast cancer for decades. This has led to the discovery of certain gene mutations that may increase one’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Your odds of being recommended to get genetic counseling are higher if you have a family history of breast cancer, a personal history of breast cancer at an unusually young age, you’re a man with a family history of male breast cancer, or you’re of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
Surgeons have learned that when conducting breast surgery, making shorter incisions usually results in more prominent scars, while longer incisions heal with more narrow (not as visible) scars. Oncoplastic lumpectomy refers to a breast cancer surgery that involves achieving the best outcomes in terms of both cancer treatment and cosmetic results.
During this procedure, surgeons remove the affected tumor and a small amount of tissue surrounding it while still maintaining the volume, contour, and shape of the breast. The lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed, but the areola and nipple remain intact.
Nipple-sparing mastectomy involves removing the cancer and breast tissue without tampering with the skin envelope that includes the areola and nipple. An incision is placed on the outer edge of the breast or along the bra line to do the procedure. Next, the surgeon reconstructs the breast using the tissue from a body part (like the back or belly), or tissue expanders that are later replaced with silicone implants.
As part of your healthcare team’s program to treat breast cancer, you may be asked to give a sample of saliva, blood, or cells from the inside of your cheek. This sample will be then sent for analysis to a laboratory that specializes in genetic testing.
A number of genetic variations that increase the risk of breast cancer have been found such as BRCA1, BRCA2, PTEN, ATM, CHEK2, and more. Genetic testing is done to identify which of these mutations might be present in your body.
If you receive a “positive” result, it means you have a known gene mutation that increases your risk of breast cancer. A “negative” result means that no such mutation has been detected. If the result indicates “variant of unknown significance”, it means a variation has been detected, but its effect on breast cancer risk is yet to be known.
Breast Cancer Risk Assessment
Breast cancer risk assessment involves you answering some questions in order to determine if you have an increased risk of cancer. It can help you and your team at Magnolia Breast Center decide whether you should consider measures to reduce your risk, like taking medications. The assessment takes into account multiple aspects of your family history, breast density, and gynecologic health to calculate your chances of developing breast cancer.
Sentinel Node Biopsy
When your doctor wants to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the initial tumor, they conduct a sentinel lymph node biopsy. It involves removing sentinel lymph nodes and sending them to be analyzed at a lab. These nodes are the very first lymphatic nodes where breast cancer cells might spread from a tumor. If the biopsy reveals cancer, your doctor might suggest removing more nodes.
Lymph Node-Sparing Surgery
When breast cancer starts to spread, it generally first moves to the lymph nodes located in and around the arm. Sometimes, it can also spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone or collarbone. To determine if the breast cancer has spread to other parts, your doctor will remove one or more lymph nodes under your arm and send them to a lab for analysis.
Lymph node-sparing surgery is often performed when a patient undergoes a lymph node surgery for the treatment of breast cancer. It’s essentially a procedure that helps the surgeon differentiate between lymph nodes that drain the arm and nodes that drain the breast (both look the same and are located in the same armpit region). Lymph node-sparing surgery uses the axillary reverse mapping technique involving a blue dye injected into the arm to turn the arm lymph nodes blue.
Ultrasound Breast Biopsy
Mammography and other exams are typically used to detect abnormalities or lumps in the breast. But these tests can’t always tell whether a growth is cancerous or benign. An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy utilizes sound waves to locate the abnormality and extract a tissue sample from it for further analysis. It’s way less invasive than a surgical biopsy and poses no risk of exposure to radiation.
Breast Ultrasound Screening
A breast ultrasound screening involves looking at the inside of your breasts using sound waves. It allows your doctor to see how well blood is flowing in and around your breasts and if there are any problems in that area. This test is mostly recommended when a patient feels a change in her breast, but it doesn’t show up on the mammogram, or the doctor spots a change on a mammogram.
These ultrasound screenings are not really used to test for breast cancer since they can miss some of the early signs of cancer, like microcalcifications (calcium deposits) in the breast. There are other reasons why your doctor may recommend a breast ultrasound – for example, if you are younger than age 25 or you are pregnant (ultrasound doesn’t use radiation but mammography does).
Also known as an aesthetic flat closure, this is a type of breast reconstruction procedure involves most of the overlying breast skin and the areola-nipple being removed, leaving a truly flat and uniform contour. It’s recommended for patients who decide to get both their breasts removed for a “flat-chested” result.
Breast Cancer Survivorship
At Magnolia Breast Center, our Breast Cancer Survivorship Program offers assistance with many aspects of your life, from recovery support to nutritional goals. If you’ve received a breast cancer diagnosis, our survivorship program will help you figure out your next moves. We work closely with you and your primary care provider to help you navigate your care plan and provide access to the support you need.
Under the program, our specialists will create a personalized transition care or survivorship plan for your post-treatment life, identify and help manage any adverse effects of the treatments, and discuss follow-up care like nutrition, cancer rehabilitation, bone health, psychosocial support, and much, much more.
Survivorship Health & Wellness
Once you have completed your breast cancer treatment, you might feel a little nervous moving forward with your life – which is completely natural. It’s common for patients to be anxious about their cancer returning.
Our Survivorship Health & Wellness Program is designed to help you achieve goals regarding your overall wellness after treatment. This includes guiding you to the appropriate follow-up screenings, educating you about the different ways to ease your stress, and helping you manage any health issues that may have arisen because of your cancer treatment.
Under the program, our nurse practitioners trained in symptom management and health maintenance discuss breast health, bone health, heart health, weight gain/loss, and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
When you come to Magnolia Breast Center for a second opinion, we evaluate each aspect of your diagnosis and treatment options. We know how scary a cancer diagnosis can be. Through a second opinion, you may find new hope and learn about newer, more preferable treatment options.
After you give us permission to obtain your medical records, our team will review all of your pathology reports, imaging studies, proposed treatment, and other medical notes. We may recommend additional tests to be able to better help you in planning the next steps.
Since its invention in 1965, mammography has remained the most effective technology to detect breast cancer. If you get a mammogram and the results are normal, it means there is no need for a follow-up. On the other hand, if you have an “abnormal mammogram”, you will be asked to undergo further screening.
An abnormal mammogram result occurs when the breast imaging discovers an unusual growth that might be malignant. This could be a small mass, small white spots (calcium deposits), or anything else that looks suspicious. Please note that not all abnormal mammograms indicate the presence of breast cancer; it could be a non-cancerous growth or even a false-positive result.
When people receive a cancer diagnosis, it is followed by a sense of urgency about starting the treatment as soon as possible. However, doing additional research or getting a second opinion to confirm the initial diagnosis is critical to make sure that you have opted for the best treatment plan for you.
Whether you want to meet a breast surgeon or you’re looking for a second opinion on your breast screening results, Magnolia Breast Center is here to help. Our board-certified oncologists are experts in the field of breast cancer diagnosis, staging, and managing the complexities associated with treatment.
Schedule Your Appointment with our surgical or medical oncologists at Magnolia Breast Center
Finding out that you or a loved one has breast cancer can be extremely scary and may even feel hopeless at times. Please know that there are a lot of resources available today to help you navigate this difficult journey. If you have any question regarding your diagnosis, or if you’d like to set up an appointment with one of the top oncologists in Florida, please call us at (239) 758-7465 (PINK).