Changes in your breasts do not always indicate cancer; lumps or swelling in the breast tissue may come about from hormonal changes. Many lumps are the result of benign growths or cysts. However, women with these conditions have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Routine breast exams should be performed at home so you can become familiar with your breasts, by doing so you will be able to recognize any changes that may occur in your breast tissue. Beginning at age 40 you should have a baseline mammogram. Mammograms can help detect changes in breast tissue and identify areas of concerns earlier when treatment is most effective and the chance for a cure is the greatest.
The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening using mammography and clinical breast examination for all women beginning at age 40. Mammograms can help detect 85 to 90 percent of all breast cancers, even before a lump can be felt.
Symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- Swelling in the armpit-this could be a sign of enlarged lymph nodes
- Changes in the size and shape of your breast
- Change in size and shape of your nipple
- Discharge from one of your nipples
- Unusual pain in one breast or one armpit that is not associated with your regular menstrual cycle
Once diagnosed with a lump or mass in your breast your physician will need to determine if you need surgery. Surgical intervention is a way to remove the lump or mass and determine if it is benign or cancerous. There are numerous surgical techniques to remove the lump and your surgeon will determine along with your input which procedure is best for you.
Surgical procedures performed at Sacred Heart Hospital include: lumpectomy, mastectomy, needle localization, and breast biopsies.
Lumpectomy: only the mass and some surrounding tissue are removed
Mastectomy: surgical removal of the entire breast, sometimes surgeons can perform a partial mastectomy which involves only removal of a portion of the breast
Needle localization: this procedure is to help identify the precise location of abnormal breast tissue for biopsy. This is done by placing dye and sometimes a small wire at the point of the abnormality. This is done prior to your surgical procedure in order to help your surgeon locate the area of the abnormality easily
Breast biopsy: removal of cells and tissue from the lump or mass for analysisIf surgical intervention is required our qualified breast surgeons at Sacred Heart Hospital will determine which procedure is best for you. Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, which means you will be able to go home the same day. Our caring and qualified staff will provide you with emotional support and quality care as you go through this process.