|Brad A. Case, MD, FACS|
|General - Vascular - Breast - Colorectal & Laparoscopic Surgery|
What is Breast Cancer ?
Breast cancer, a common cancer in women, is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the breast. Each breast has 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. The lobes and lobules are connected by thin tubes called ducts. The common type of breast cancer is ductal cancer. It is found in the cells ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular cancer. Lobular cancer is more often found in both breasts than other types of cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer. In this disease, the breast is warm, red, and swollen. A doctor should be seen if changes in the breasts are noticed. The doctor may suggest that you have a mammogram. A mammogram is a special test of the breast that may find tumors that are too small to feel. If a lump in the breast is found, the doctor may need to cut out a small piece of the lump and look at it under the microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. If the biopsy shows there is cancer, it is important that certain tests be done on the cancer cells. The chance of recovery and choice of treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer, the type of breast cancer, certain characteristics, cancer cells, and whether the cancer is found in the other breast, age, weight, menopausal status, and general health can also affect the prognosis and choice of treatment.
Stages of Breast Cancer
Stages of Breast Cancer:
Once breast cancer has been found, more test will need to be done to find out if the cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body. This is staging. To plan treatment, a doctor needs to know the stage of the disease. The following stages are used for breast cancer.
Stage I - the cancer is no larger than 2 centimeters and has not spread outside the breast.
Stage II - any of the following may be true:
The cancer is no larger than 2 cm but has spread to the nodes under the arm. The cancer is between 2-5 cm, and may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.
The cancer is larger than 5 cm but has not spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.
Stage III - Stage III is divided into stages IIIA and IIIB.
Stage IIIA - is defined by either of the following :
The cancer is smaller than 5 cm and has spread to the nodes under the arm, the lymph nodes are attached to each other or to other structures. Or the cancer is larger than 5 cm and has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.
Stage IIIB - is defined by either of the following:
The cancer has spread to tissues near the breast or the cancer has spread to lymph nodes inside the chest wall along the breast bone.
Stage IV - The cancer has spread to other organs of the body. Or, tumor has spread locally to the skin and lymph nodes inside the neck, near the collarbone.
Vacuum Assisted Stereotactic Breast Biopsy (VASBB)
What is it?
Stereotactic breast biopsy is used to take tiny samples of your breast tissue that can be studied under a microscope. During the procedure, an x-ray helps find and localize the tissue to be removed. Stereotactic biopsy may prevent the need for open (surgical) breast biopsy.
Prior to the Exam:
Unlike conventional surgery, there is no need to avoid food prior to having your biopsy done. You may eat a light breakfast, but your doctor will recommend you avoid coffee unless it is decaffeinated. If you take aspirin or blood thinners, you should discontinue using these 3 days before your scheduled Stereotactic biopsy.
A comfortable two-piece garment should be worn to the facility. This will allow you to easily disrobe from the waist up for the procedure. You will need to avoid using deodorant or talcum powder on the day of your biopsy.
During the exam:
During the exam you will lie face down on a specially-designed table with your breast suspended through an opening in the table top. The skin on your breast will be cleansed and numbed with a local anesthetic. The table will be raised and your physician and the technologist will perform the procedure from beneath. Your breast will be slightly compressed between two mammography plates and held in position throughout the procedure. This is done so a low-dose x-ray can be taken. Several x-rays will be taken, during which you will be asked to lie very still for a short time. The x-ray helps find the exact tissue to be sampled. A small nick is made in your skin. A thin needle is inserted through the nick. The needle is used to remove several tiny samples of breast tissue. Between five and ten samples will be removed and the samples will be sent to the pathology laboratory for diagnosis.
The procedure lasts approximately 1 hour.
After the Exam:
After the exam, the biopsy site will be bandaged and a cold pack applied to relieve swelling and bruising and to stop any bleeding. If you experience any discomfort after the procedure, you may take a non-aspirin pain reliever every 4 – 6 hours.
Any bruising around the biopsy site should disappear within two weeks. If you notice any excessive swelling, bleeding, drainage, redness, or heat, you should notify your doctor. The final pathological results of the test are usually available within 2 days.
“Although breast cancer is not yet preventable,
early detection of breast lumps may offer a cure.”