Breast Cancer Treatment in Utah
Breast Cancer Symptoms:
Breast cancer symptoms vary from person to person and there is no exact definition of what a lump or mass feels like. The best thing to do is to be familiar with your breasts so you know how “normal” feels and looks. If you notice any changes, tell your doctor. While regular self-exams are important, many breast cancers are found through regular screening mammograms before any symptoms appear.
Breast Cancer Symptoms may include:
- Lump or mass in the breast
- Lump or mass in the armpit
- Breast skin changes, including skin redness and thickening of the breast skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture
- Dimpling or puckering on the breast
- Discharge from the nipple
- Scaliness on nipple, which sometimes extends to the areola
- Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
- An ulcer on the breast or nipple, sometimes extending to the areola
- Swelling of the breast
Breast Cancer Treatment Options:
There are two categories of breast cancer surgery:
- Lumpectomy: In a typical lumpectomy surgery, the tumor and a small amount of surrounding normal tissue are removed. This procedure may be appropriate for early breast cancer cases where the tumor is still small. Lumpectomies are generally outpatient procedures and have shorter recovery times. These procedures are usually followed by radiation therapy.
- Mastectomy: In a typical mastectomy surgery, the tumor and the entire breast are removed. There are several different types of mastectomies, including procedures that spare the breast’s skin and nipple/areola. Often a mastectomy and breast reconstruction can be performed in the same procedure.
Radiation therapy uses powerful beams of energy carefully designed to kill breast cancer cells. There are different techniques used in radiation therapy. Your doctors and radiation oncologist will collaborate to make sure you receive the most effective and precise dose of treatment. Radiation therapy treatments for breast cancer patients include:
- 3D conformal radiation therapy: This technique uses radiation beams that are shaped to the tumor’s dimension.
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy: IMRT uses multiple beams of radiation with different intensities to deliver a precise, high dose of radiation to the tumor.
- Volumetric arc therapy: In this special type of IMRT, in VMAT therapy, the section of the machine that shoots out the beam of radiation rotates around the patient in an arc. This can irradiate the tumor more precisely and shorten procedure times.
- Accelerated partial breast irradiation: A form of brachytherapy, APBI uses radioactive pellets or seeds to kill cancer cells that may remain after a lumpectomy.
- Stereotactic body radiation therapy: Sterotactic body radiation therapy administers very high doses of radiation, using several beams of various intensities aimed at different angles to precisely target the tumor.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery: Stereotactic radiosurgery is most commonly used to treat breast cancer that has spread to the brain. Stereotactic radiosurgery uses dozens of tiny radiation beams to target tumors with a precise, high dose of radiation.
Proton therapy is similar to the radiation therapies described above, but it uses a different type of energy and is much more accurate at targeting tumors. It delivers high radiation doses directly into the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. For many patients, this results in better cancer control with fewer side effects.
Cancer cells rely on specific molecules (often in the form of proteins) to survive, multiply and spread. Targeted therapies stop or slow the growth of cancer by interfering with, or targeting, these molecules or the genes that produce them.
Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to directly kill cancer cells, control their growth or relieve pain. It is often given to patients before surgery to shrink the tumor and simplify the procedure. Breast cancer patients can receive chemotherapy either orally or intravenously.
Angiogenesis is the process of creating new blood vessels. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the main molecules that control the process. Some cancerous tumors are very efficient at using these molecules to create new blood vessels, which increases blood supply to the tumor and allows it to grow rapidly.