Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Approximately one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. It is estimated that over 43,000 women will die from breast cancer this year alone. While the incidence of breast cancer increases with age, the number of younger women being diagnosed is increasing steadily.
If a mammogram or a clinical breast examination reveals an abnormality, a biopsy may be necessary. A biopsy procedure removes a tissue sample for examination under a microscope to determine whether the abnormality is cancerous. There are several types of biopsies. You and your doctor can choose the type that is best for you.
If breast cancer is detected it must first be staged. Staging is a system that is used to determine how widespread the problem is and how it will be treated. There are five stages beginning with Stage 0, the earliest stage, which can almost always be cured. By Stage 4, the tumor has spread to other organs. The sooner cancer can be diagnosed the better your chances for survival.
If breast cancer is detected, two basic treatment options are available. Early stage cancer may be treated with a lumpectomy, which is a removal of the cancer with a rim of normal tissue, and axillary (underarm) node sampling. The second alternative is modified radical mastectomy or total breast removal with axillary lymph node sampling. Most can be treated with the first alternative.
After surgery, other therapies will be explored or recommended depending on the stage and characteristics of the tumor. This therapy could include chemotherapy, either injected or oral, given over a period of time. Radiation also plays a role even in some women who have a modified radical mastectomy.
Click on any of the following medical links for further information on Anal Abscesses as well as other medical topics.