Stages and treatments
After breast cancer has been diagnosed, your physician will work with a multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses and technicians to establish the best treatment plan for you. CarePoint Health’s Center for Breast Health offers a number of treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and hormone therapy.
In a process called staging, tests are performed to find out if cancer cells have spread within the breast or to other parts of the body. The information gathered from this process determines the stage of the disease. Generally, stages range from 0, which describes non-invasive cancers that remain within their original location, to IV, which describes invasive cancers that have spread outside the breast to other parts of the body. Stages are most often identified by factors such as size and whether lymph nodes are involved. While this information is meant to act as a guideline to the various stages of breast cancer, it should not be used to self-diagnosis or self-prescribe treatment. Each stage must be treated differently, and your physician will personalize your treatment to ensure that you are receiving the right care.
Breast cancer surgery
The primary treatment for breast cancer is surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Today, women have many surgical options. The type of surgery performed depends on:
- The size and location of the breast lump or tumor
- The type and stage of the breast cancer (if the cancer has spread within the breast or has spread outside of the breast to the lymph nodes, or to other parts of the body).
- The size of the breast
- The patient’s preference
Several types of breast surgery are available. Your doctor can explain the benefits and risks of each type, and answer any questions or concerns you may have prior to surgery.
At CarePoint Health Center for Breast Health, we offer:
- Nipple and skin sparing surgery
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy
- Nipple and reconstruction via implant or tissue transfer (DIEP flap)
In fact, CarePoint Health was the first and only in Hudson County to perform DIEP free flap breast reconstruction, and we are proud to offer this additional service to our patients. Surgical breast reconstruction offers the most natural-appearing result.
Following a mastectomy or lumpectomy, you will have to take many considerations when thinking about living with your new body. Among these are the various types of post-mastectomy and lumpectomy prostheses, also called breast forms, including:
- External silicone breast prosthesis, a weighted prosthesis made of silicone designed to simulate natural breast tissue
- Non-silicone breast prosthesis, a lightweight breast form made of foam or fiberfill
- Partial breast prosthesis, a breast form made of foam, fiberfill, or silicone designed to be worn over your own breast tissue to enhance the overall size of the breast and to create a fuller appearance
- Attachable breast, a self-adhesive breast form that attaches securely to the chest wall with adhesive strips
- Post-surgical soft form in camisole, light-weight, removable breast form that fits into a camisole garment
The type of prosthesis selected is determined by the amount of breast tissue that is removed. A prosthesis can be worn against the skin, inside the pocket of a mastectomy bra, or attached to the chest wall. Your multidisciplinary care team will be able to help you decide what is right for your post-mastectomy care.
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses chemical substances, especially one or more anti-cancer drugs, as part of a standardized regimen. It is one of the major categories of medical oncology and is often used in conjunction with other cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and/or surgery. Before determining if this treatment is right for you, proteomic and genomic analysis are performed to see how well your body will respond. Chemotherapy can be administered orally or intravenously at one of our many infusion centers.
CarePoint Health offers external beam radiation therapy, which directs radiation to a specific part of the body through the use of a high-energy x-ray machine. This procedure is performed daily over the course of weeks or months, and is given as an outpatient treatment.
Hormone therapy is used to treat tumors that are sensitive to estrogen. This treatment prevents the growth, spread or recurrence of breast cancer by blocking your body's natural hormones from reaching any remaining cancer cells. In addition to administering this treatment orally or intravenously, hormone therapy may include surgery to remove the ovaries or make them unable to produce hormones.
With advances in breast reconstruction surgery, many women undergoing breast removal (mastectomy) choose to have their breast(s) rebuilt. Even though medical, surgical, and radiation therapy treatments for breast cancer have increased the number of breast-sparing procedures available, some breast cancer patients may still need a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction involves creating a breast mound, including reconstruction of the nipple, that comes as close as possible to the form and appearance of the natural breast.
You will be counseled on your breast reconstructive options prior to mastectomy so that you can make the decision for or against reconstruction before going into surgery. Based on your personal medical history, a recommendation will be made for either immediate reconstruction at the time of mastectomy or delayed reconstruction after the mastectomy is completed.
Carepoint Health has physicians and technicians who specialize in reconstruction of the breast. While we offer implants, muscle flaps, and free flap reconstruction (DIEP), our personalized treatment and attention will help determine what your best options are for reconstruction.