Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the breast. It can start in one or both breasts. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get breast cancer too. It’s important to understand that most breast lumps are benign and not cancer (malignant). Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. It can spread when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph system and then are carried to other parts of the body (metastases). Not all women with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases, and some women with no cancer cells in their lymph nodes might develop metastases later.

There are many types of breast cancer. The most common breast cancers are carcinomas such as ductal carcinoma in-situ and adenocarcinoma. The level of invasiveness is determined by diagnostic testing and imaging.

Cancer Care of North Florida will take careful steps stage and grade the tumor to assess the best way to create and manage your treatment plan. Our goal is to achieve the very best outcome while preserving your quality of life.

What are the risk factors for Breast Cancer?

It may not be possible to avoid risk factors for breast cancer. The best plan is to catch it early. Lifestyle and hereditary factors include:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not being physically active
  • Not having children and not breastfeeding
  • Some methods of birth control
  • Menopause hormone therapy
  • Breast implants
  • Inheriting certain gene changes
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause
  • Previous radiation to the chest

If you fall into any of these categories, do a breast self-exam each month. The self-exam may help you catch problems early when treatment is easier.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer Include:

  • A new lump or mass in the breast (the most common sign)
  • Skin dimpling (sometimes looks like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry flaking, or thickened
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collar bone

Many of these symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous tumors. Remember that knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular screening for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

At Cancer Care of North Florida, once cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists may order diagnostic testing and imaging to help determine the stage and extent of the disease. We use the most advanced therapies available to treat breast cancer. An individualized plan of care may include multiple types of treatments. It is very important to do a comprehensive breast cancer work-up to carefully evaluate the extent of breast cancer.

  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Needle-guided biopsy
  • Blood tests for tumor markers, hormone receptor status and HER2 status
  • Genetic testing

Depending on the type and stage (severity) of the breast cancer, the following treatments may be necessary:

Surgical options may include:

Breast Conservation Surgery – Removal of the cancer as well as some surrounding normal tissue. Only the part of the breast containing the cancer is removed
Mastectomy – Removal of the entire breast and nearby tissue
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy – procedure in which the surgeon injects a dye and then removes only the lymph node(s) under the arm that have taken up the dye. These lymph nodes are where the cancer would likely spread first. Removing only one or a few lymph nodes lowers the risk of side effects such as arm swelling that is also known as lymphedema.
Axillary Lymph Node Dissection – is a procedure that does not use a dye and in which the surgeon removes many (usually less than 20) underarm lymph nodes.

Other forms of non-surgical interventions for breast cancer include:

Radiation – Any remaining cancer cells left after surgery are destroyed with high-energy radiation beams. For some breast cancer, treating with chemotherapy at the same time can make radiation therapy work better. It is possible to receive radiation therapy before, during or after surgical intervention. Also, when surgery is not possible, radiation can be used to help slow the growth of the tumor. We work closely with Cancer Care of North Florida Radiation Oncology located on campus.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy (chemo) are anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously (injected into your vein) or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Chemotherapy can sometimes be given before, during or after surgery. At Cancer Care of North Florida, our team provide extensive education and supportive care through your therapy.
Targeted Treatments – Targeted drugs work differently from chemo drugs. They sometimes work when chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different side effects. They can be used either along with chemotherapy or by themselves if chemotherapy is no longer working. Targeted treatment options are determined by further genetic testing of the tumor cells. This type of testing is usually done on the biopsied tissue of the tumor cells.
Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to help a person’s own immune system better recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be used to treat some people with advanced breast cancer.

Why Choose Us?

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with breast cancer, it is crucial to work with a team of breast cancer experts who not only have extensive experience, but also a strong track record for achieving the best possible outcome for their patients. While this type of cancer is treatable, the dedicated team Cancer Care of North Florida will initially stage and treat this form of cancer and monitor and treat cancer recurrence or complications that may occur later.

At Cancer Care of North Florida, our physicians are highly specialized in treating multiple types of cancer with the most advanced techniques. Using a team approach, we strive for excellence. We work with each patient to specifically tailor their treatment to their own clinical situation. One of the common diseases that we treat is breast cancer.

  • Highly trained, collaborative oncology specialists all currently taking new patients
  • Consultation appointments scheduled within 3-5 days of referral and in some cases same-day appointments available
  • One-stop campus for comprehensive diagnositics and treatment for many types of cancer including radiation, chemotherapy infusion, lab draws and imaging services
  • Onsite infusion center offers comfortable, home-like setting
  • In-office lab testing
  • In-office medication dispensary
  • Open, immediate access to outpatient symptom management
  • 24-hour physician coverage
  • COPI-certified clinical trials
  • We accept most insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, and VA