Breast Cancer

Types of Breast Cancer

About 230,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. The most common types of breast cancer include:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early form of breast cancer, where malignant cells are found inside the milk ducts only
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma, the most common type of breast cancer. The cancerous cells originate in the milk ducts and then grow into surrounding breast tissue, and can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma, which begins in the glands that produce milk and then grows into surrounding breast tissue and can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body

Breast cancer is always treatable, but the types of treatment will depend on the stage and the biology of the cancer. Your breast cancer team may include a surgical oncologist or breast surgeon, a radiation oncologist, a medical oncologist, and a plastic surgeon. Treatment is aimed at getting rid of the known cancer and preventing recurrences anywhere in the body.

Bassett Healthcare Network’s breast surgeons and oncologists encourage regular breast cancer screenings to catch breast cancer in its early stages. Some breast cancer patients need testing to be sure that the cancer has not spread.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Most forms of breast cancer are diagnosed with regularly scheduled screenings in patients without symptoms. This is the purpose of mammography – to look for small abnormalities before they cause symptoms. Please talk with your primary care practitioner about scheduling a mammogram.

Some symptoms to seek medical care for which may be related to breast cancer include:

  • Change in nipple shape, size, or appearance. This includes a newly inverted nipple
  • Spontaneous clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Skin changes on the breast
  • Swollen breast, or swelling in part of the breast
  • A mass or lump in the breast

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

No one knows the exact cause of breast cancer, and unfortunately, all women are at risk. Factors that may slightly increase your risk include dense breast tissue, early menstruation (before age 12) or late menopause (after age 55), unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as obesity, lack of exercise, or drinking alcohol, European ethnicity (or of Caucasian race), or age (a woman’s risk increases as she ages).

More immediate risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Family or personal history of breast cancer
  • Breast biopsy showing atypical cells
  • Exposure to DES (diethylstilbestrol), that was used between 1938-1971 to prevent miscarriage
  • Genetics: 5-10% of breast cancers are linked to mutations in BrCa1 and BrCa2, and other genes
  • Prior chest radiation therapy as a teenager or young adult

Breast Cancer Treatment

Early detection is key to successful breast cancer treatment. Regularly scheduled mammograms increase your chances of detecting breast cancer at an early stage. Treatment may include surgery, hormone replacement therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.

At Bassett Healthcare Network’s Women’s Imaging Center, nurse navigators offer support and coordinate care, and will stay involved throughout your course of treatment.

Schedule an Appointment for a Consultation

If you discover irregularities in your breasts or want to schedule a mammogram, ask your primary care physician or practitioner for a referral, or call 607-547-3160 (OB-GYN & Women’s Health), or 607-547-7040 (Surgical Clinic Scheduling) for an appointment.

Bassett Healthcare Network offers breast cancer diagnosis and treatment throughout Central New York, including Cooperstown, Cobleskill, Oneonta, Herkimer, Little Falls, Delhi, and beyond.