TV Spot: "About Breast Cancer" by Dr. Anita Deshpande

Anita Deshpande, M.D. is a Board Certified in Medical Oncology and Hematology specialist. She received her MBBS Karnataka Medical College, Hubli, India, internship at Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, NE, Residency S.M.S. Medical College, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India and Medical Oncology Fellowship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, and works currently with Cancer Centers of North Carolina.

Breast Cancer Tip Sheet for BCMS

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Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from cells in the breast. It is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States.  It is estimated that more than 207,090 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 39,840 women will die from the disease this year. The death rates, however, are declining due to earlier detection and improved treatment options.  In the United States, more than two million women have been treated for breast cancer.


Data pulled from the American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2010 – August 2010.

 

Risk Factors

  • Age – breast cancer usually occurs in women over the age of 50, but can occur in women regardless of age.
  • Genetic changes – about five to 10 percent of breast cancers are attributed to genetic changes.
  • Family history – the chance of developing breast cancer increases when immediate family members have the disease. 
  • Personal history – women who had cancer in one breast will have an increased risk of developing cancer in another area of that same breast or in the other breast.  
  • Race – Caucasian women have higher incident rates, but African American women have higher death rates.
  • Menstrual periods – women who began their menstrual periods before the age of 12 or went through menopause after the age of 55 have an increased chance of breast cancer.
  • Treatment with DES – some women, in the past, were given DES (diethylstilbestrol) to help with pregnancy.  Recent studies have shown that these women have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol – consumption of alcohol can slightly increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer.  The American Cancer Society suggests limiting the amount of alcohol consumption.
  • Weight - being overweight is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.  Diet and weight are also linked to other cancer types and heart disease. 

Signs and Symptoms
The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or mass.  It is usually hard, painless and has uneven edges.  Some lumps or masses, however, can be soft and rounded.  Anything unusual should be checked by your doctor immediately.  Other signs include:

  • swelling in part of the breast
  • skin irritation or dimpling
  • nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
  • redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
  • a nipple discharge that is not breast milk
  • a lump in the underarm

Screening
Regular screening improves the chance that breast cancer can be found and treated successfully at an early stage.

  • Mammograms – women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year.
  • Clinical Breast Exams – women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam every 3 years, and women over the age of 40 should have the exam every year.
  • Breast Self-Exams – women should begin to administer breast self-exams in their 20s.  Any changes in their breast should be reported to a doctor immediately. 

Staging
If cancer is found, your doctor will need to determine the progression of the cancer.  This classification, called staging, allows the healthcare provider to properly identify a treatment plan and to determine the prognosis.  All cancers are staged on a roman numeral scale, of I-IV(1-4), where the higher stage represents more advanced cancer.

Treatment
There are several options to treat breast cancer including, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.  Each method may be used alone, or in combination.

  • Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.  The drugs are administered orally or infused directly into the bloodstream.  The drugs travel throughout the body reaching cancer cells that may have spread beyond the breast into other part of the body.
  • Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in the treatment area.  It is primarily administered from a machine outside the body, similar to an x-ray, but for a longer period of time.
  • Surgery treats the cancer by removing the cancerous tissue.  The type of surgery required depends on the stage of the cancer. 
    • Lumpectomy – involves removing the lump or mass and some of the normal tissue around it.
    • Partial (segmental) Mastectomy - involves removing more breast tissue than a Lumpectomy.
    • Simple or Total Mastectomy – involves the removal of the entire breast, but not the lymph nodes under the arm.
    • Modified Radical Mastectomy – involves the removal of the entire breast and some of the lymph nodes under the arm.

About Dr. Anita Deshpande
Anita Deshpande, M.D. is a Board Certified in Medical Oncology and Hematology specialist. She received her MBBS Karnataka Medical College, Hubli, India, internship at Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, NE,  Residency S.M.S. Medical College, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India and Medical Oncology Fellowship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, and works currently with Cancer Centers of North Carolina.

 

This information is not intended to diagnose or to take the place of medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. WNC/BCMS does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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