breast cancer

overview

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will have a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s overwhelming – but when detected early, breast cancer can often be treated successfully.

The team at Aurora Breast Centers, part of Aurora Cancer Care, is there for you every step of the way. We strive to offer the latest radiologic and cancer care technology, from genetic counseling to better determine your risk, to a range of diagnostic tools, to cancer research.

Aurora Breast Centers are accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the American College of Surgeons. NAPBC accreditation requires that a center has successfully completed a rigorous application process and survey, and it meets the criteria for 27 standards in such categories as leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education and quality improvement.

symptoms

Breast cancer symptoms may include:

  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels, including tenderness, a lump in the breast or in the armpit or a change in skin texture
  • A change in breast or nipple appearance, including size, dimpling, swelling, shrinking, asymmetry or inverted nipples
  • Spontaneous or bloody nipple discharge

diagnosis

Imaging tools used to detect breast cancer and figure out its type and extent include:

  • Mammography: Aurora recommends average-risk women have a mammogram at least every 2 years beginning at age 40. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer (i.e. have a family history or personal history of atypia) may need to have mammograms starting at an earlier age. 
  • Tomosynthesis: A three-dimensional mammogram. 
  • Breast ultrasound: An ultrasound is often used to precisely position biopsy needles and to determine if abnormalities found on a mammogram are solid or fluid-filled.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): An MRI may be used with mammography for improved breast cancer detection, to determine the extent of the disease and to monitor breast cancer therapy. 
  • PET/CT: This technology is helpful in defining areas where breast cancers have metastasized elsewhere in the body.
  • Ductoscopy: This procedure involves inserting a very small video scope into the breast so doctors can examine the affected duct and target suspicious areas to biopsy. It’s used to evaluate women with abnormal nipple discharge.


Because of the complexity of breast cancer, your doctor may also test for:

  • Hormone receptors: Estrogen and progesterone are hormones produced by your ovaries. These hormones help your normal breast cells grow and may also help some cancer cells grow. If your breast cancer cells have hormone receptors, we can treat those cells with medicine that reduces or blocks estrogen in your body. 
  • HER-2 status (sometimes referred to as ErbB2): HER-2 is a gene that helps control how cells grow, divide and repair themselves. About 1 in 4 breast cancers have too many copies of the HER-2 gene. These cancers tend to grow fast. They also respond very well to anti-HER-2 antibody therapy.

services & treatment

Your doctor will discuss treatment options and a care plan that is right for you. 

Surgical treatment options include: 

  • Breast conservation: A surgeon removes the breast cancer, a little normal breast tissue around the lump and usually some lymph nodes under the arm. 
  • Total mastectomy: Removal of breast tissue. A total mastectomy is needed when cancer is found in more than one area of your breast, if your breast is too small or shaped in such a way that removing the cancer will leave little breast tissue or deformed breast, or if you can’t have radiation therapy. Skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomies may be offered, depending on the proximity of the tumor to those structures.
  • Modified radical mastectomy: Removal of as much breast tissue as possible, the nipple, some of the overlying skin and lymph nodes in the armpit.
  • Intra-operative radiation therapy: Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a special procedure in which radiation is delivered into an open incision during surgery. This technique is used when your surgeon finds cancer in your neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis that can be easily seen, but can’t be completely removed.
Additional options, which may be paired with surgery, include:

  • Radiation therapy: Breast conservation surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can be given either to the whole breast or a focused area, called brachytherapy. In-office radiation therapy (IORT) is offered in some locations. Check with your provider.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can prevent cancer from coming back in women who are newly diagnosed, control the disease when found in other places in the body and control the disease in women whose cancer has come back after previous treatment. 
  • Hormone therapy: Tests can determine if the cancer is sensitive to estrogen or progesterone. If the test is positive, it means that the cancer cells grow when one or both of these hormones are present. You may be given a hormone blocker (a pill) that prevents your body's natural hormones from reaching the cancer.
Many women choose to have reconstructive cosmetic surgery after breast cancer treatments. We offer:

  • Anaplastic surgery: Breast-conserving surgery in combination with plastic surgery techniques, such as reduction mammoplasty, which optimizes aesthetic outcomes
  • Breast reconstruction: This surgery reconstructs a breast that's been removed with silicone or saline implants or by using muscle, fat and skin from other parts of the body. Though you won’t get a breast with all the natural feelings, it can give you a result that looks like a breast. 
  • Breast form-fitting services: Breast forms come in a variety of shapes and sizes and fit into specially designed lingerie. They help your body maintain its balance and help you avoid upper back and neck pain, not to mention help you feel more self-confident.

treating your cancer, caring for you.

Our musculoskeletal oncology program is located at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee. We treat all kinds of musculoskeletal cancer, including adult and pediatric bone and soft-tissue tumors and metastatic bone disease.

Team members include an orthopedic surgical oncologist, radiologist, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, plastic surgeons and a physical therapist.

In addition to top-notch medical care, Aurora offers patients:

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