FACTS ABOUT BREAST CANCER

    At Northeastern Nevada Radiation Oncology Center, we want to guide you through the complicated world of cancer care while providing you with some of the most advanced care available. For our patients, being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event, which is why we’ll go above and beyond to make sure they receive the finest professional care. One of the most common forms of cancer in women is breast cancer, and understanding more about it is critical for both prevention, and achieving the best outcome possible for diagnosed patients.

    Breast cancer causes malignant cells to form in the tissues of the breast, affecting around 231,840 women and 2,350 men per year. Other important facts about breast cancer include:

    • Approximately one out of every eight women will be afflicted with breast cancer at some point in life.
    • Even though breast cancer is a common and deadly disease, it’s curable. 83 percent of the patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer will end up surviving more than ten years after their diagnosis. 
    • There are about 2.8 million breast cancer survivors that are currently residing in the United States.

    Learn more about Breast Cancer:


    Signs & Symptoms of Breast Cancer

    The symptom that is most typically associated with breast cancer is a lump in one of the breasts. Lumps that are indicative of breast cancer can be any shape or size. Some of them may be painful while others aren’t. Other signs and symptoms that a patient with breast cancer may have:

    • A breast’s skin texture may change.
    • A breast may change its size or shape.
    • There may be pain in a nipple or breast.
    • There may be tenderness in a nipple.
    • There can be a bloody or clear discharge from a nipple.
    If you spot any of these signs or symptoms, it’s vital for you to see a healthcare professional and get tested as soon as possible. Breast cancer treatment has a high rate of success as long as it’s detected early enough.

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    Treating Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer treatment will vary depending on the stage and location of the cancer. Surgery, followed by radiation therapy, can be effective for treating breast cancer. Either a lumpectomy, or partial removal of the cancerous breast tissue, or mastectomy, a complete removal of the breast, will be required.

    Following a lumpectomy, radiation therapy is often recommended to reduce the chance that the cancer returns. The types of radiation therapy and what each entails can be found below.

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    Whole Breast External Beam Radiation Therapy After Lumpectomy

    After lumpectomy, the usual course of radiation treats the whole breast and, if necessary, nearby lymph node areas. Before beginning treatment, you will be scheduled for a planning session or “simulation” to map out the area of treatment. A radiation therapist will use x-rays and/or CT scans to create tattoo-like marks on your skin for precise treatment.

    The radiation beam comes from a linear accelerator, or “linac” to destroy undetectable cancer cells and usually begins around three to four weeks after surgery. The full course of treatment is usually delivered over three to seven weeks, depending on the individual case.

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    Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation After Lumpectomy (apbi)

    The long-term results of these APBI appear promising, as ongoing research suggests that it may be safe to only give radiation treatment to the part of the breast that had the tumor.

    There are two different approaches to APBI:

  1. Breast brachytherapy involves placing flexible plastic tubes called catheters, or a balloon, directly into the cavity where the lump was taken out. A small, radioactive seed is guided into the catheters or balloon and is left in place for several minutes, based on the treatment plan designed by the radiation oncologist. The procedure is repeated twice daily for a period of five days, then the catheters or balloon are removed and the treatment is finished. 
  2. External beam radiation with 3-D CRT is delivered in a similar way to standard whole breast radiation using a linear accelerator. However, it is more focused on the area around the surgery. Treatment occurs twice daily over a one week period.
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    Chest Wall Radiation after Mastectomy

    After a mastectomy, your doctor may suggest radiation therapy for the chest wall and nearby lymph node areas. Whether or not radiation therapy should be used after removal of your breast depends on several factors such as the number of lymph nodes involved, tumor size and whether or not cancer cells were found near the edge of the surgical site. Women planning to undergo reconstruction should discuss the impact of post-mastectomy radiation with their surgeon and radiation oncologist.

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    Benefits of Radiation Therapy at Northeastern Radiation Oncology Center

    Radiation therapy is beneficial because it can reduce the risk of the tumor recurring and it can also increase the probability that a patient’s cancer treatment will be successful. The procedure of radiation therapy is both simple and easy to tolerate. If there are any side effects, they will be temporary and minimal.

    At Northeastern Nevada Radiation Oncology Center, we’re not just here to provide the breast cancer treatment that you need – we’re here to provide the peaceful and relaxing environment you need to heal. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s anything we can do for you.

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    CARING FOR YOURSELF DURING TREATMENT

    • Get plenty of rest during treatment, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
    • Follow your doctor's advice. Ask if you are unsure about anything.
    • There are no stupid questions.
    • Tell your doctor about any medications, vitamins or supplements you are taking to make sure they are safe to use during radiation therapy.
    • Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids. If food tastes funny or if you're having trouble eating, tell your doctor, nurse or dietitian.
    • Treat the skin exposed to radiation with special care. Stay out of the sun, avoid hot or cold packs, only use lotions and ointments after checking with your doctor or nurse and clean the area with warm water and mild soap.

    Coping with the stress of a cancer diagnosis can be tough. It may help to seek out help from support groups and friends.

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    BREAST CANCER RESOURCES

    Breast Cancer.org

    610-642-6550
    www.breastcancer.org

    Imaginis: The Breast Cancer Resource
    www.imaginis.com

    Living Beyond Breast Cancer

    1-888-753-LBBC (5222)
    www.lbbc.org

    National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

    www.nationalbreastcancer.org

    Share

    1-866-891-2392
    www.sharecancersupport.org

    Sister Network

    1-866-781-1808
    www.sistersnetworkinc.org

    Also see Helpful Links

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    BROCHURE

    Download some helpful brochures from www.rtanswers.org:

    Breast Cancer Brochure
    Questions to Ask

    *Content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, www.rtanswers.org, and the American Cancer Society.

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