Breast Cancer

A breast cancer diagnosis might change your life forever, but it will also bring out the very best in you. And at INTEGRIS Health, it also brings out the very best in us.

Breast Cancer

No woman wants to hear the words "breast cancer." A breast cancer diagnosis might change your life forever, but it will also bring out the very best in you. And at INTEGRIS Health, it also brings out the very best in us.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer | Causes of Breast Cancer | Diagnosis for Breast Cancer | Treatments for Breast Cancer | Mediccal Oncology | Support Services

Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in the cells of the breast. It's the second most common type of cancer in the United States, behind skin cancer. Although breast cancer affects many women each year, men can develop breast cancer as well.

The INTEGRIS Health Cancer Institute is steadfast in our commitment to bring you absolute top-of-the-line care. That starts with education about the disease, its symptoms and treatment options, but we'll be by your side all the way through therapy, remission and a rehabilitation program designed specifically for cancer survivors.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer affects people differently, as some don't experience any symptoms at all. Younger women may ignore their symptoms believing they're too young to develop breast cancer. However, earlier detection helps lead to more positive results for patients. Both men and women should be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer. Symptoms include the following:

  • A new lump in the breast or armpit that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Thick or swollen breasts
  • Changes to the skin over the breast or dimpled breast skin
  • Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola)
  • Nipple pain or inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharge other than breastmilk (including blood)
  • Changes in breast size, shape and appearance
  • Pain anywhere in the breast

If you find a lump or change in your breast, even after a normal mammogram, request an appointment with your doctor for a more in-depth evaluation.

Causes of Breast Cancer

Doctors know that breast cancer occurs when cells begin to grow abnormally in the breast cells. This creates a lump or mass in the breast area. Breast cancer is also known to spread, which is called metastasizing. This can spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body.

Breast cancer is known to start in the milk-producing ducts, invasive ductal carcinoma. It can also start in the glandular tissue called lobules, invasive lobular carcinoma.

Research has shown that hormonal, lifestyle, and environmental factors may increase the risk of breast cancer among people. However, it's unclear why some people without any risk factors still develop breast cancer. This has led doctors and researchers to believe that breast cancer can develop due to a complex interaction of genetic makeup and your environment.

Additional possible causes of breast cancer include:

  • Gender and age
  • Family history and genetics
  • Menstrual history
  • Dense breasts
  • Lifestyle habits

Diagnosis for Breast Cancer

Breasts are made up of several different types of tissue. When cancer is diagnosed, the specific type of cancer is determined by what types of cells have begun behaving abnormally. These types of cancer can be diagnosed with the following tests:

  • Breast exam: during a breast exam, your doctor will check both your breasts and lymph nodes in your armpits. This is done to feel for any lumps or abnormalities.
  • Mammogram: an X-ray of the breast, mammograms are commonly used to screen for breast cancer.
  • Breast Ultrasound: using sound waves, doctors can produce images of the structures deep inside the body. An ultrasound can be used to determine whether a new lump on the breast is either a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst.
  • Biopsy: a biopsy is a definitive way to make a diagnosis of breast cancer. During a biopsy, your doctor uses a specific needle guided by another imaging test, such as an X-ray, to extract a core tissue from the area in question. Biopsy samples are then sent to a laboratory for analysis, where specialists determine if the breast cells are cancerous. A biopsy will also determine the type of cells involved in the breast cancer, the aggressiveness (grade) of the cancer and whether the cancer cells have receptors that may influence treatment options.
  • MRI: during a breast MRI, an MRI machine uses a magnet and radio waves to develop pictures of the interior of your breast. Compared to other imaging tests, an MRI doesn't require radiation to create the image.

Treatments for Breast Cancer

Your treatment program will be specific to you. Upon diagnosis, a plan is mapped out, considering your age, overall health and health history, the type of breast cancer, how much the cancer has advanced, predicted course of the disease, tolerance for available procedures and medications and your preferences and opinions. You will be assigned one or more oncologists and a fellowship-trained surgeon in cases of breast cancer surgery.

Surgery is a common treatment for breast cancer. It's done to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Surgeries include the following:

  • Sentinel node resection: Cancer often first spreads to nearby lymph nodes. So if you have swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, you may need a sentinel lymph node biopsy to remove your lymph nodes to check for cancer cells.
  • Mastectomy: This method removes the whole breast and most of the overlying skin.
  • Breast-conserving mastectomy (BCS): Only the part of the breast is removed. Breast-conserving surgery may be used as part of a treatment plan for breast cancer. It is sometimes called a lumpectomy or a partial mastectomy.
  • Skin-sparing mastectomy: The breast tissue, nipple, and areola are removed, but most of the skin over the breast is saved.
  • Nipple-sparing Mastectomy: All of the breast tissue, including the ducts going all the way up to the nipple and areola, is removed, but the skin of the nipple and areola are preserved.
  • Reconstructive breast surgery: Breast reconstruction is surgery to create a new breast in place of a breast that has been removed (mastectomy). A breast mound is created that comes as close as possible to the shape and look of a natural breast.

Breast Cancer Radiation

Breast cancer may not require surgery. Radiation Therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that's used to shrink and destroy cancer cells. Radiation is often used along with other breast cancer treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy.

  • Whole Breast Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy is a treatment for cancer most often used along with other treatments. It uses high-energy X-rays usually aimed at the whole breast.
  • Partial Breast Radiotherapy: This radiation treatment is used in smaller parts of the breast, after a tumor removal, to minimize reoccurrence.
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): This type of radiation treatment is given inside the body in the area of the cancer. It gives a higher dose of radiation to a small area for a shorter time. The radiation source may be put directly into the area of the breast tumor or put in through a small tube placed near the tumor.
  • Brachytherapy: Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation that is given inside the body as close to the cancer as possible. Internal radiation involves giving a higher dose of radiation in a shorter time span than with external radiation.

Medical Oncology

INTEGRIS Health medical oncology is a dedicated group of medical oncologists specializing in diagnosing and caring for cancer patients with a variety of medical options. These treatments are administered orally or intravenously depending upon the treatment plan developed by your multidiscipline cancer care team.


This is a way to use the body's immune system to help treat or prevent many health problems. Immunotherapy may be used to treat or manage cancer.


Chemotherapy's main method of function is to interfere with cancerous cells' ability to develop and multiply. A patient may be prescribed a combination of a few types of chemotherapy, and it may also be prescribed in tandem with additional treatments, like radiation or surgery.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses medicines that target specific parts of certain types of cancer cells, interfering with their ability to grow and survive. The therapies are specific to each person's cancer.

Support Services

At INTEGRIS Health, we offer a wide variety of support programs and services along with the Troy and Dollie Smith Wellness Center to help patients with breast cancer and their loved ones manage the physical and emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Support services for breast cancer include:

  • Integrative medicine clinic
  • Mind, body therapies, including acupuncture, massage, and yoga
  • Research and clinical trials
  • Nutrition consultations
  • Pastoral care, spiritual support and relaxation techniques
  • Resource Room
  • Clinical social work services
  • Counseling
  • Patient navigation and survivor care planning
  • Multi-disciplinary clinic coordination
  • Cancer screenings
  • Patient and family support groups

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