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Breast Cancer Resources
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Calvert Medical Arts Building
130 Hospital Rd.
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Phone: 410.414.4700
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Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. Though rare, breast cancer can also develop in men. Anyone who notices a lump or any unusual change in a breast should see a physician as quickly as possible.

According to the latest statistics, the average woman in the US has a 12% chance of developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, but fortunately the rates are declining. Breast cancer develops when normal cells in the breast grow out of control.

There are several types of breast cancer including:
  • Invasive (infiltrating) breast cancer
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget disease of the nipple
  • Rare tumors such as Phyllodes tumor and Angiosarcoma

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
Most women diagnosed with breast cancer will not notice anything unusual, their cancer is diagnosed on screening mammograms.

Then most common symptom of breast cancer is a painless lump or mass. A hard mass with irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, however breast cancers can be tender, soft or rounded.

Other symptoms include swelling in the breast, skin dimples/irregulation, pain or retraction of the nipple, redness or thickening of the nipple, nipple discharge or swollen lymph nodes.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the clinical outcome.

Mammograms, including screening, diagnostic and tomosynthesis (3D), are x-rays of the breast that can detect signs of breast cancer. Mammograms of women with implants can be accomplished, sometimes additional pictures are taken. Additional rapid tests include breast unltrasound and breast MRI. A diagnosis involves removing a small tissue sample which is evaluated by a pathologist to see if cancer is present.

What are the stages of breast cancer?
The stage of breast cancer describes how much cancer is in the body and how far it has spread. The stages from stage 0 (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) to stage IV (Metastatic), as described by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), updated most recently in January 2018.

  • Stage I: The tumor is no larger than 2 centimeters in diameter and has not spread elsewhere. The lymph nodes are unaffected.
  • Stage IIA: The breast tumors are no larger than 2 centimeters in diameter or there is no breast tumor, but the cancer has spread to a few axillary lymph nodes, or the tumors are between 2-5 centimeters in diameter but have not spread to any lymph nodes.
  • Stage IIB: Breast tumors are between 2-5 centimeters and the cancer has spread to a few axillary lymph nodes, or the tumors are larger than 5 centimeters with no signs of cancer in lymph nodes.
  • Stage IIIA: The cancer has not spread to the chest wall or breast skin but has spread to nearby lymph nodes. The size of the cancer may vary.
  • Stage IIIB: The cancer affects the chest wall, breast skin or both places. In some cases, the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IIIC: The cancer has spread widely to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV: This is metastatic breast cancer, which has spread to distant parts of the body, such as bones, lungs, brain and liver. This can be the stage of cancer when diagnosed, or it may develop after other stages of breast cancer advance and spread.

What are the treatments for breast cancer?
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. It’s important that you think carefully about each of your choices. Weigh the benefits of each treatment option against the possible risks and side effects.

Some treatments are local, meaning they treat the tumor without affecting the rest of the body.

Most women with breast cancer will have some type of surgery to remove the tumor. Depending on the type of breast cancer and how advanced it is, you might need other types of treatment as well, either before or after surgery, or sometimes both.

Drugs used to treat breast cancer are considered systemic therapies because they can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body. They can be given by mouth or put directly into the bloodstream. Depending on the type of breast cancer, different types of drug treatment might be used, including:

  • Hormone Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy

What about breast reconstruction?
If you have a mastectomy or an extensive lumpectomy, you may decide to undergo breast reconstruction, in which implants or your own tissues taken from elsewhere in your body are used. It's important that you talk to your surgeon about your reconstruction options and preferences before your cancer surgery. In some cases, a nipple-sparing mastectomy may be possible, although this is not an option for all women.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
There are genetic predispositions to some breast cancers, so if your mother, daughter or sister has had breast cancer, you are considered at higher risk. The risk of breast cancer also rises as you age. Women who have never given birth or who gave birth to their first child later in life have a higher risk than women who gave birth at a younger age. Breastfeeding for at least a year also reduces risk. Many of these factors are out of your control, but others are things you can control: Eat a healthful diet, maintain a healthy weight, quit or don't start smoking, exercise regularly and limit alcohol intake.

What are some additional resources for learning about breast cancer?
If you or your loved one is facing breast cancer, CalvertHealth has a whole range of services designed to help you so you never take this journey alone. Please talk to your CalvertHealth provider, your Nurse Navigator, or check the service pages for information about treatments, services and support groups. Additional patient-friendly information about breast cancer may be found on the breast cancer page of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network site.
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