How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer to affect women in the U.S., with skin cancer being number one. The American Cancer Society reports that about one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment both help women overcome this frightening disease. The board certified surgeons at Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute in Berwyn and Elmhurst, IL, and serving LaGrange, IL, diagnose and treat breast cancer. 

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Several factors can increase a women’s risk of developing breast cancer. Some of the known risk factors for being diagnosed with breast cancer include:

  • Over 55 years of age
  • A family history of breast cancer
  • BRCA and PALB2 gene mutations
  • Radiation exposure for cancer treatment
  • First pregnancy after age 30
  • Benign breast disease 
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause 
  • Being overweight  

Diagnosing Breast Cancer

Many women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any obvious symptoms, which is why monthly self-exams and regular breast cancer screenings with a healthcare professional are so important. In some cases, symptoms do develop and a doctor should be soon as possible. Some symptoms that can be signs of breast cancer include:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Thickening in the breast
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Changes in the breast (appearance, shape or size)
  • Crusting, scaling, or peeling of the skin around the nipple
  • Changes in the appearance of breast skin 
  • A newly inverted nipple 

Breast cancer can be detected using several screening and diagnostic tools. Mammograms are one of the most common methods of identifying suspicious masses in the breast tissue that could be cancerous. Other methods of detection include ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

When a suspicious mass is detected through one of these screening methods, a biopsy is performed to determine if it is cancer. A biopsy involves extracting a small sample of the mass to be tested for the presence of cancer cells. 

For women diagnosed with breast cancer, a sentinel or axillary lymph node dissection might also be performed. These procedures involve removing certain lymph nodes from the armpit area and testing them for the presence of cancer cells. If none are present, it is an indication that the cancer has not spread beyond the breast area. The presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes suggests the cancer is at a more advanced stage and could be spreading to other areas.

Breast Cancer Treatments

Numerous methods are available for effectively treating breast cancer. The type of treatment needed depends on what stage the cancer is in, the patient’s health, and other factors. The experienced providers at our practices in Berwyn and Elmhurst, IL, and serving LaGrange, IL, tailor breast cancer treatment plans to the needs of each individual patient. Some of the methods regularly used in the treatment of breast cancer include:

  • Lumpectomy
  • Mastectomy 
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Medications 

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of breast cancer both play a key role in overcoming this disease. Schedule an appointment to learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer by calling Suburban Surgical Associates/Suburban Metabolic Institute in Berwyn and Elmhurst, IL, and serving LaGrange, IL, at (708) 484-0621.

Please call our office number (708)484-0621 for all questions and appointment requests.