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The Stages of Breast Cancer Explained

Breast cancer affects one in four women, and it can be daunting to understand all the different stages and treatment options that are available; especially if you have been recently diagnosed. To help you through the specifics of all the different breast cancer stages and what they mean for your personal treatment plan, the Breast Institute Houston has put together an informative piece to walk you through every stage of breast cancer. Find an attentive and highly recommended breast cancer specialist in Houston when you contact the Breast Institute Houston to schedule your first appointment today.

Breast Cancer Stage Zero

While most patients assume that cancer stages begin at stage one, many don’t know that there is a stage zero in the diagnostic process. Stage zero for breast cancer patients indicates the identification of cancerous cells before they have had time to truly impact the overall health of a patient. This means that the cells have been found in or near the breast tissue, milk glands, or ducts, and it has not yet spread to any other areas of the body. This stage is the best-case scenario for breast cancer patients, as the cells have not multiplied, symptoms are extremely minor if they even appear, and patients have the highest rate of recovery.

Breast Cancer Stage I and II

For patients with stage one or two of breast cancer, the aggressive cells have multiplied, and they are in attack mode. This means that the healthy tissue near or in the breasts is at risk for being infiltrated by cancerous cells. At this stage, patients are still considered to have much better odds than patients who are further along, there may or may not be a small tumor present, and the symptoms are still minor. To treat patients with stage I cancer, physicians can choose to either perform a surgery to remove the tumor and cancerous cells, or they can suggest rounds of chemotherapy to shrink any harmful cells. For patients who have developed to stage II of breast cancer, a combination of both surgery and chemotherapy radiation is often prescribed to attack the more intense cells. If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and you need a top breast cancer specialist in Houston, contact the Breast Institute Houston today to schedule your first appointment now.

Breast Cancer Stage III

When the cancerous cells have begun to spread beyond just the fatty tissues of your breasts and extended to other areas of your body like your armpits and collarbone area, cancer has evolved to stage three. During stage three, cancerous cells have not yet infiltrated deep into the bone or organs, but they are close, and fighting them off is incredibly difficult. To fight this aggressive stage, doctors continue to treat the tumors with surgery when possible, and the chemotherapy radiation treatments become more frequent and extensive. To appropriately target all potentially harmful cells, the radiation must be distributed to all areas in order to effectively try to shrink them. Chemotherapy operates on a case by case basis; with some patients improving over time, and others developing advanced cancer cells that do not respond to the chemotherapy treatments, in which case the doctors would attempt other kinds of cancer medication. Because chemotherapy is a radiation-based treatment, patients with both stage three and four experience symptoms of hair loss, intense nausea, anemia, memory problems, and nail discoloration.

Breast Cancer Stage IV

With a stage four diagnosis of breast cancer, the life expectancy rate drops considerably, and survival rates for both men and women hover around 27 percent. At this stage, cancer cells have progressed beyond tissue and lymph node attacks and have infiltrated the bones, organs, skin and even the patient’s brain. Because of this intense spread of harmful cells, treatment options vary based on the patient and their chosen breast cancer specialist in Houston. Surgery and chemotherapy radiation are still the most effective and heavily utilized treatment options, and most patients will receive a combination of the two. If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and you need the best breast cancer specialist in Houston to help you through your personal treatment plan, contact the Breast Institute Houston right away to get started with a physician today.

Are You Considering Breast Reconstruction?

“Today, a woman should end up having prettier breasts than she had before being diagnosed with breast cancer.” — Breast Health Institute Houston

Recovery from breast cancer treatment is not what it used to be. With breast reconstruction in Houston offered by Darlene M. Miltenburg Md, FRCS(C), FACS you will achieve the best possible aesthetic results in a caring, understanding, and informative environment.

Although breast reconstruction after a mastectomy can be a complicated and sometimes risky undertaking, Dr. Miltenburg believes all patients deserve to be considered. Dr. Miltenburg discusses surgical options with patients, regardless of age, co-morbid conditions, cancer stage, geographic location, insurance coverage, etc.

Breast Reconstruction in Houston

Terms to know about breast reconstruction:

Breast reconstruction means the creation of a new breast after the natural breast has been completely removed.

Mastectomy means surgical removal of the breast.

Immediate reconstruction is when the breast is reconstructed during the same surgical operation that the natural breast is removed.

Delayed reconstruction is when breast reconstruction is done during a separate operation.

Implant-based reconstruction uses a synthetic implant to reconstruct the breast.

Autologous reconstruction uses tissue from other parts of the patient’s body to reconstruct the breast.

Mastectomy and Reconstruction go Hand-In-Hand

When a doctor and patient begin to discuss mastectomy, they should also talk about reconstruction. Although it is true that reconstruction does not “cure” cancer itself, it is often necessary to restore the patient’s sense of well-being after treatment.

Reconstruction After Mastectomy is Covered by Insurance

Insurance companies are required to cover breast reconstruction after mastectomy in the United States. Prophylactic mastectomy for high-risk women is also covered (prophylactic mastectomy is when one or both breasts are removed preemptively, or to prevent cancer.) Insurance is even required to cover reconstruction on the contralateral breast to create aesthetic symmetry and make you look and feel your best.

What if I don’t Want Surgical Implants?

If you don’t like the idea of cosmetic surgery or breast implants, you can opt to be fitted with a post-mastectomy bra and prosthesis.

Once the incisions from the mastectomy have healed (about 6-weeks after surgery,) your surgeon can write a prescription for the bra and prosthesis. You can take the prescription to a shop and have both items custom-fitted. Some retailers will even make house-calls.

Today’s prostheses are made of new materials that are light-weight and waterproof, so you can wear them in the pool. They are also made from a cooling material, which is important when you are looking into breast reconstruction in Houston where the weather gets warm.

Talk to Other Women

Hearing the voices of other women who have been through mastectomy and reconstruction can help you decide whether you want to have breast reconstruction in Houston. Many women are willing to share personal stories, experiences, photographs, and their decision-making processes with other patients. These can be very helpful when trying to sort through you own thoughts and feelings.

Some great places to go are the Discussion Board forums called Breast Reconstruction and Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy, where women share experiences and support each other. The site BreastFree is devoted to sharing stories, photos, and other information about opting to have no reconstruction after mastectomy. Many women call this “going flat.”

Breast Cancer Treatment Houston

Breast Health Institute Houston provides concierge service to women with breast cancer, women at high risk for breast cancer, and women with benign or unknown breast disorders. At BHIH, Dr. Darlene Miltenburg not only diagnoses and cures put puts every patient at ease with her caring and empathetic manner. All her patients are “patients for life.”

Contact Dr. Miltenburg at Breast Health Institute Houston Today.

How Long Do You Feel Bad After Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses a drug or combination of drugs, some of which can make you feel sick. Not all chemotherapy drugs have the same side-effects.

At Breast Institute Houston, Dr. Miltenberg customizes all chemotherapy treatments to provide the safest and most effective care. Chemotherapy in Houston with Dr. Miltenberg is a great option if you want to treat yourself kindly.

The most common reaction to chemotherapy treatment is nausea and vomiting. Your likelihood of experiencing these symptoms depends on many factors.

How long the symptoms last depend on the specific type of reaction you are having. Read on to find out about the different ways your body can react to chemotherapy.

Will I Experience Nausea and Vomiting after Chemo?

The type of chemo drugs that are used is not the only factor influencing whether you will experience nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy in Houston. If you are given a higher dose, for instance, you are more likely to experience these symptoms.

In addition, how the drugs are given can affect the symptoms you experience afterward. When they are given intravenously (by IV,) they are absorbed much faster and therefore may be more likely to cause nausea and vomiting sooner than if administered by mouth (via a pill.)

Also, if doses are given too close together, you will have less time to recover. Experience repeat symptoms close together will make it seem like your symptoms are lasting longer.

If the tumors are in the brain, you may experience worse symptoms.

In the end, it may all come down to your individual response to the different types of chemo and the various dosages. Each person may find they have a personal reaction to treatment that is unique to them.

Personal Risk Factors

There are a few factors which can make you more likely to experience the symptoms of nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy in Houston. They include:

“Being female
Being younger than 50
Having had morning sickness during pregnancy
Being very anxious or nervous
Having ever had motion sickness
Being prone to vomiting when you are sick
Having been a non-drinker or light drinker (of alcohol)
Having had chemo in the past

How Long Will My Symptoms Last?

The onset of your symptoms and how long they last depend on the type of chemo-related nausea and vomiting you are experiencing.

Types of Chemo-Related Nausea and Vomiting


Acute nausea and vomiting will happen a few minutes to a few hours after the treatment is administered. It will normally go away within 24 hours. The worst part of it is usually around five to six hours after treatment.


Delayed nausea and vomiting start between one and seven days after treatment. It is usually caused by certain types of chemo, so be sure to find out about it from your doctor before you start treatment.


Anticipatory nausea and vomiting are a “conditioned response. It appears to be the result of previous experiences with chemo that led to nausea and vomiting, in which the brain pairs the sights, sounds, and smells of the treatment area with vomiting []” With anticipatory nausea and vomiting, you will become nauseated and perhaps vomit before treatment even begins. However, only 1 in 3 people experience this type of nausea and 1 in 10 vomit before treatment.


Breakthrough nausea and vomiting occurs even after anti-reactionary medications have been given to try to prevent the symptoms from occurring. In the case of breakthrough nausea or vomiting, doctors will try more or different medicines to keep your symptoms under control.


Refractory vomiting is when medications given to control vomiting do not work. “Refractory” means the vomiting “does not respond” to treatment. As with breakthrough vomiting, your doctor may try more or different medicines to get the problem in check. Refractory vomiting may happen after few or many treatments of chemotherapy in Houston.

Chemotherapy in Houston

At Breast Institute Houston, breast cancer specialist Darlene M. Miltenberg, MD has treated thousands of patients with breast cancer and other disorders of the breast. Dr. Miltenburg customizes all specialized chemotherapy and radiation treatments so you get the most effective care with the least side effects. For comprehensive breast cancer treatment including chemotherapy in Houston, contact Breast Institute Houston today.

Feeling Beautiful with Breast Cancer

breast cancer surgeon in Houston

breast cancer surgeon in Houston

A diagnosis of breast cancer means many changes to the body you know and love. Working with your breast cancer surgeon in Houston through each stage of treatment and recovery, you must learn to adjust to new changes in your appearance. Many of these changes will be temporary; some will be permanent. During this time of upheaval, taking time to appreciate your beauty as it is not only comforting, but can positively impact your health and well-being.

For example, many cancer patients feel they don’t have control over what is happening to their bodies. But did you know that treatment such as massage therapy can help to alleviate the color and severity of scars, while providing emotional release and building mental strength? The message is: Feel Good, Look Good.

Breast Cancer and Your Hair

Many women feel that hair thinning or loss is one of the most impactful changes that come with chemotherapy. Whether you have thinning hair, partial or total hair loss, you should know that when your hair grows back it may be curlier, straighter, or even a different color! One common experience is a sensitive scalp, which can make it difficult to wash or comb your hair. []

To make your hair appear fuller, use a mild, volumizing shampoo and pat dry. Also, this is the time to try a shorter, and more stylish, haircut. Less hair will be available to clog the drain, and you can gradually get used the look of less. “Go bold and dramatic and make a statement with your hair. You’re strong, you’re alive, and you’re fighting hard! []”

If your hair has thinned or fallen out, you have two wig options: match your natural look exactly or make a statement with your wig.

Option A)
Try to go wig shopping as soon as your doctor tells you that you’ll need to buy a wig, so that you can match the one you buy exactly to your natural hair color and style.

Option B)
Go big and bold! Choose wigs in exotic colors, like pink or blue. Dare to stand out.

And, of course, you can have your pick of colorful (or tame) and soft scarves to wrap yourself in. Discuss your options with your breast cancer surgeon in Houston – she may have some excellent recommendations for where to shop!

Wearing Makeup with Breast Cancer

“A 2012 Harris Interactive survey found that one-third of women with cancer felt negative impacts from the changes in their appearance during their treatment. The effects are far-reaching, affecting their self-esteem, their personal relationships, and their ability and desire to go out and socialize []” No matter who you are or what time of your life you’re in, you know that when you think you look good, you feel good!


How about applying lipstick on your way out the door to give your face some extra “oomph?” A moisturizing formula can help chapped lips, the right color can brighten your smile, and organic ingredients are non-toxic.


Applying an organic blush over the cheekbones and sweeping up towards the ears will make your face look vibrant and healthy. If your face is looking puffy, try contouring with a bronzer. On the flip side, if you have lost weight, try a light-colored concealer and brown contour to plump up your face magically with makeup.


Loss of hair from eyebrows and lashes can make a woman feel “like an alien.” To fill in your eyebrows, make sure you follow their natural shape. Use feathery strokes with a pencil or brush-on kit.

If your lashes have fallen out, try fake ones – this is practically what they were made for. If your lashes are thinning, apply a thin line of eyeliner and some mascara.

Important Note: Throw Away Your Old Makeup

Make sure to change your eye makeup every three months so you don’t get an eye infection.

In fact, why not just start from scratch and buy all new products? You are more sensitive to toxins that may be lurking in old products now and more vulnerable to infection overall. Be honest- do you really know how long you’ve had some of those items? Can you guess how much bacteria they’ve pick up from everyday use? It’s time to start fresh with skin-friendly, organic makeup.

Comfort & Camaraderie

Your breast cancer surgeon in Houston, Dr. Miltenburg, can tell you that spending time with others who are in the same or similar situation can make you feel incredibly beautiful. In the US, programs such as Look Good Feel Better offer women with any kind of cancer an opportunity to meet each other while getting beauty tips.

“The program offers comfort and camaraderie, which helps alleviate the feeling of isolation that is common among cancer patients,” says Kelly Perez, manager of Mission Delivery with the American Cancer Society, which partially runs the program.

Perhaps most impressive is the l’Embellie boutique in Paris, a “cozy, comforting space” that offers everything a woman with cancer might shop for. The girls who work there are practically counselors, trained as they are to support their clients in any way they need. The store doesn’t just sell beautiful headscarves, wigs, and gloves, but even lingerie and loungewear fitted for prosthesis.

Breast Cancer Surgeon in Houston

At Breast Institute Houston, Dr. Miltenburg takes time to get to know you and your concerns, knowing that both are complex. She does not take a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a highly personalized one that focuses on who you are and how you feel. You will experience a different kind of surgery, as well – one that is focused on you living a long, healthy life while looking and feeling your best. Call 713-714-3930 or Contact Dr. Miltenburg Today!

Undergoing a Breast Biopsy in Houston

A biopsy is a sample of body tissue you doctor takes for the purpose of examining it more closely. Most people have heard about biopsies of lesions, tumors (also known as cysts,) or other masses which are suspected to be cancerous. A doctor should order a biopsy when a test suggests an area of tissue isn’t normal. In some cases, a biopsy of normal-appearing tissue may be done to check for cancer spread.

A breast biopsy in Houston should leave you 100% confident in the test results. Dr. Darlene M. Miltenburg, breast surgeon at Breast Health Institute Houston, will give you the accurate results you need to feel secure.

Breast Biopsy in Houston

In a breast biopsy, irregular tissue is taken from the breast and examined closely for signs of cancer. This is normally done under a microscope; however, there are varying techniques of conducting the biopsy.

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)

FNA is the least invasive biopsy technique, and it is often used for masses which appear less menacing, such as cysts and lymph nodes.

On the other hand, FNA can lead to a longer course of treatment. If cancerous cells are found with this method, the surgeon may not be able to tell if the cancer is invasive or not, and this knowledge will guide her treatment decisions. Therefore, additional biopsies may become necessary.

Core Needle Biopsy

When you have a breast biopsy in Houston and Dr. Miltenburg sees an abnormality in your breast imaging (such as mammogram, ultrasound, or MR,) a Core Needle Biopsy will typically be performed. If this procedure is done with a mammogram, it’s called a stereotactic biopsy.

The standard procedure is as follows:

  1. The skin is anesthetized
  2. The surgeon makes a small cut in the skin using a scalpel
  3. A few very small “cores” of tissue are removed from the affected area with a needle (usually 3 or more; as many as are needed to be 100% certain of the results)

Excisional Biopsy

Excisional biopsies are done on breast abnormalities that are not noticeable to the touch, at home or clinically, but are nonetheless visible through imaging. This type of biopsy is also known as “Open Surgical Biopsy,” and it is performed by a method called “wire-localization:”

  1. While viewing the abnormality via imaging, a very small wire is passed to the tumor (mass, etc.) through the skin while the patient is awake.
  2. After locating the mass with the wire (“localization”), the patient is taken to the operating room, where the doctor’s incision follows the wire to the tissue in question and it is removed.
  3. The removed tissue is usually x-rayed, to make sure the possibly cancerous tissue was properly and fully removed.
  4. The tissue is sent to pathology for a biopsy.

Incisional Biopsy

In cases where the mass is easy to feel in the breast tissue, it can be removed without localization. After making an incision, the surgeon removes the mass using special scissors, electro-cautery, or something similar. This time, the tissue “may or may not be x-rayed” before being sent to pathology for a biopsy.

Lumpectomy/ Partial Mastectomy

This is very similar to an excisional biopsy, however, rather than only removing the mass or tumor (like a surgeon does in excisional biopsy,) the goal here is to remove the mass with a rim of surrounding “normal” tissue.

Breast Biopsy in Houston

Houston Breast Cancer Surgeon Darlene M. Miltenburg provides service to women with breast cancer, women at high risk for developing breast cancer, and women with benign or unknown breast disorders. With Dr. Miltenburg, you will experience a different kind of surgery, and you will experience a different kind of relationship with your doctor. Dr. Miltenburg knows how to listen, because she understands your expectations are more than just wanting to “be OK.”

Call 713-714-3930 or Contact Breast Health Institute Houston Today.

A Personalized Approach to Breast Cancer Treatment


If you are concerned about your breasts or have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the last thing you are looking for is a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. When searching for breast cancer treatment in Houston, you will be focused on finding the doctor who provides the most personalized approach. The good news is, today, testing for dozens of biomarkers means oncologists can fine-tune breast cancer treatments in ways not even dreamed of “just an eye-blink ago.”

Personalized Medicine


There is no standardized definition for personalized medicine (also called precision medicine.) In general, it describes either tailoring or adapting the treatment of any disease, including breast cancer, to give the most effective treatment for the individual patient.

For personalized breast cancer treatment in Houston, contact Breast Institute Houston.

A Genome Magazine article on personalized medicine and breast cancer describes the case of a patient who was successfully treated in this manner. The author writes, “A disease is analyzed at the molecular level. The analysis identifies a drug target. The drug gets delivered where it needs to go. The patient gets better. And while this hopeful scenario has yet to become commonplace, it is becoming more and more the norm for many breast cancer patients.”

Information Gathering

Doctors practicing personalized medicine use information gathering techniques to help them adjust their treatment plans. Some types of information they gather include:

  • Genetic information
  • Lifestyle factors and other personal information
  • Molecular characteristics of the disease

Goals of Personalized Medicine

While the goal of any medical treatment is to be effective, the point of practicing personalized medicine is to enhance results while avoiding unnecessary treatment.

Enhancing Results

Doctors use therapies that target specific tumors – or specific cellular pathways that lead to tumor growth. Patients are then matched with treatments that their breast cancer will best respond to.

Patients may also be selected for certain treatments based on personal factors, including whether they have entered menopause. Most factors that determine treatment are related to the tumor itself, however.

More about Factors that Affect Treatment and Prognosis

Avoiding Unnecessary Treatment

Treatments for Breast Cancer

When receiving breast cancer treatment in Houston, you may undergo:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy

All of these have risks as well as side effects. By avoiding unnecessary treatments, patients avoid some of these risks and side effects.

Targeted Drug Therapies

Some cancer drugs are designed to target and attack particular cancer cells or cellular pathways. For early and locally advanced breast cancer, they include trastuzumab and pertuzumab. For metastatic breast cancer treatment, more targeted therapies are available including tyrosine-kinase inhibitors and poly (ADP-Ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors.

Looking Towards the (Near!) Future

Treatment continues to become more tailored. Diagnostic tests are becoming more detailed and may even predict side effects of treatments like chemotherapy or radiation in the near future. They will also, of course, give more exact guidance in choosing the drug or combination of drugs most likely to cure the cancer.

For patients with advanced and/or aggressive cancers, genomic discoveries may be able to help even when the latest treatments often fail. “In these ways and many others, breast cancer prevention, treatment, and care are a microcosm of the slow but inevitable shift in healthcare.”

“Why do some cancers react to certain drugs and not to others? Why might a cancer become resistant to a drug? How can we predict these outcomes and changes? How do we choose a therapy that is just right for a particular patient? These are the kinds of questions researchers will try to answer in coming years.” –Heather Millar, Genome Magazine

Personalized Breast Cancer Treatment in Houston

Breast Health Institute of Houston is your choice for personalized breast cancer treatment in Houston. We are a private surgical practice, dedicated exclusively to patients with malignant and benign breast disorders. At the lead is Darlene Miltenburg, MD, founder. Dr. Miltenburg has practiced breast surgery in academic and hospital-based settings for over 20 years, and with “an unbearable compassion for suffering,” has “the need to do the right thing, every time.” Contact Breast Health Institute of Houston today!

Breast Reconstruction for Women With vs. Without Breasts

Woman having heart on bosom

Breast reconstruction surgery can vary for women who have undergone a full mastectomy. When mastectomy patients have received the procedure due to tumors, BRCA mutation prevention, or any other factors, the first step for your surgeon is to make sure your health is intact when removing the breasts. This can result in a more difficult reconstructive surgery, as the area becomes too sensitive to sustain the standard reconstructive procedure.

Below, we’ve listed out a comprehensive list of differences between what breast reconstruction is like for women with breasts vs. reconstructive surgery for women without breasts. If you’re looking to find a talented surgeon for an implant reconstruction in Houston, contact the highly recommended team at the Breast Institute of Houston today!

Breast Reconstructive Surgery for Women Without Breasts

If you have had a mastectomy, your chest has been severely altered biologically. However, it is not uncommon for mastectomy patients to want the look and feel of natural breasts following their surgery, so an alternative procedure has been created for these patients specifically. Because of the anatomical trauma your chest has endured, implants take longer to surgically place. This is because your doctor will want to be completely sure that your body is prepped for the weight of breast implants, and that the skin, vessels and muscles around your chest can sustain the additionally mass.

During a mastectomy, breasts and skin that connects your upper abdomen and collarbone to your chest has decreased significantly, as the procedure requires your surgeon to close the areas that were operated on. This can sometimes even require a flap of skin that has been taken from another area of the body. Because of this, your skin is delicate and sensitive, and to ensure that the final implant will be placed effectively and without further complications, your surgeon will perform an initial operation to insert an expander. The expander will be a temporary hold for a few weeks, until your blood vessels, skin and muscles have had time to adapt to the new space and have shown that they are capable of holding the extra weight. Once the expander can be removed, your surgeon will schedule another procedure to make the final implant. During this procedure, you will be able to determine how augmented you want the implants to look. If your time with the temporary expander was not as smooth as it could be, consider opting for a small breast size, as that may be an easier transition for your body. Find a great surgeon to perform an implant reconstruction in Houston when you call the Breast Institute of Houston today!

Breast Reconstructive Surgery for Women with Breasts

For patients who are looking to augment their current breast size, the procedure is relatively simple, and it does not require as many appointments or procedures. Technically, this procedure is an augmentation, as a reconstructive breast surgery is defined as a procedure to replace breast appearance for women who have had their natural breasts removed. For women who have breasts, this procedure requires a consultation appointment with your surgeon to establish what areas of your breast you want augmented, as well as decide upon the size of breasts you want for the overall finished look.

Once you have completed an initial consultation, you will schedule the surgery date. On that day, your doctor will use a form of anesthesia for either partial numbing or sleep inducement, and your surgery will last approximately three hours. Following surgery, you will spend that night in the hospital, and get released in the morning after the proper postoperative procedures have been completed. Find out more about available implant reconstruction in Houston by visiting the Breast Institute of Houston today!

The Relationship Between Lymph Nodes and Cancer

Many of us have heard the term “lymph node”, but not many of us understand specifically what their purpose is. These nodes are integral to the function of our body and it’s good to know specifically why they are so important. For any questions regarding this issue, or for a lymph node biopsy in Houston, contact Breast Institute Houston to find out more.

What Are Lymph Nodes?

Despite often being tied to cancer, it is important to know that lymph nodes are separate and are crucial to the health of our bodies. A part of the lymphatic system, lymph nodes act like filters and trap bacteria, viruses, and other waste that can cause infection. These lymph nodes are scattered throughout the body and fight infection to maintain our body’s health. It is like having an army to fight bacteria in your body because the nodes are all connected via lymph vessels that carry clear fluid to help battle infections. This fluid brings nutrients to the infected cells and carries away any harmful products causing the problem.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

According to the American Cancer Society, “when there is a problem, such as infection, injury, or cancer, the node or the group of lymph nodes in that area may swell or enlarge as they work to filter out the ‘bad’ cells.” It is important to note that just because you have a swollen lymph node, does not immediately mean that it is cancer.

There are a lot of other reasons besides cancer that the lymph nodes may swell; essentially, any type of infection or virus can cause it. Things like strep, mono, and even a normal cold can cause inflammation in the nodes. Swollen lymph nodes, however, do tell you that something is not right and that you should consider a lymph node biopsy in Houston to make sure that everything is okay.

How Can I Tell If I Have A Swollen Lymph Node?

Fortunately, you may be able to spot swollen lymph nodes quickly since often they can be related to other symptoms. For example, ear pain or an enlarged lymph node near your ear can be an indicator of an ear infection or cold. Additionally, knowing common areas to look out for will help signify if you have swollen lymph node. The experts at the American Cancer Society state that common areas for lymph nodes are often found in the neck, groin, and underarm area. To ensure that your lymph node health is of the utmost priority, it is important to meet with the experts at the Breast Institute Houston for your lymph node biopsy in Houston.

How Does Cancer Infiltrate the Lymph Nodes?

Also known as lymphoma, cancer that originates in the lymph nodes is one way that cancer can occur. The second way that cancer can get into the lymph nodes is by spreading there from a different part of the body, which is more common. The reason that this is more common is because the cancer cells can travel through the body via the lymph system and blood. Because the nodes are all connected via the lymph vessels, and their unique design to fight off infections, viruses, and bacteria, their main function is to target trouble areas in the body and try to fix it. This may cause the spread of cancer because the lymph vessels are programmed to carry away the infected toxins to the nodes to be eradicated.

Lymph Node Biopsy in Houston

It is important for anyone suffering from frequent lymph node swelling to get checked out. Also, if your lymph nodes are swollen and you show no other signs of an illness, a lymph node biopsy in Houston may be needed. Contact Dr. Miltenburg at Breast Institute Houston to schedule an appointment today.

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

Cancer treatment chemotherapy room

While there is no one cure for the many forms of cancer, modern medicine has discovered the procedure of chemotherapy as a measure to combat cancer in the human body. However, the process of chemotherapy is a confusing one to understand and there are many different aspects to the treatment. For clarity about chemotherapy, read our guide on how chemotherapy works. If you need chemotherapy in Houston and are looking for a qualified medical professional, contact the team at the Breast Institute Houston.

What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the process of using a drug or a combination of drugs through an intravenous or endocrine application to treat cancer. This process has proven to be an effective but painful treatment, as the drugs used are classified as systemic treatments. This means that in the process of trying to kill or slow fast-growing cancer cells, it can also target healthy, fast-growing cells throughout the entire body.

Systemic treatments take a substantial toll on your health, energy and chemical balances, and healthy cells that attribute to hair growth and stomach lining can be damaged because of chemotherapy treatments. There are ways to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and the potential for fighting off cancerous cells entirely makes the process more beneficial despite the side effects. If you have more questions regarding the treatment of cancer through chemotherapy in Houston, contact the Breast Institute of Houston to speak with a professional today.

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the treatment is chosen based on the factors of the type of cancer. These factors include the tumor marker, the tumor size, whether the cancer has presented in the patient’s lymph nodes, and a gene expression profile score. Depending on the results of testing, treatment is determined to respond to the exact type of cancer, and the specific threat it poses. Because cancer cells are aggressive and grow very quickly, chemotherapy treatment must be administered frequently.

In the case of intravenous treatment, the cancer patient will have the drugs administered a few times a week, as instructed by their physician. If the endocrine treatment is prescribed, the patient will be responsible for taking pills orally for up to five years. In the case of an intravenous drug treatment, a patient will go through chemotherapy cycles, where the drugs will be administered every day, for a set amount of days or weeks. After this period, the patient will follow with a rest cycle, where no chemotherapy injections will be received. This allows for physicians to mark how the drug is either aiding the depletion of cancerous cells, or how the drug is ineffective in ridding the cells from a body.

Chemotherapy is a difficult treatment to undergo under any circumstance because of the toll it takes on the body of a patient. Since the drugs administered are formulated to fight constantly growing cells, healthy cells can also be destroyed from chemotherapy treatments. This leads to hair loss and a loss of appetite and stomach strength, since the drugs target these growing cells as well as the dangerous cancer cells. Patients of chemotherapy treatment will most likely endure major hair loss on their head, and throughout their entire body, and can experience symptoms of vomiting or nausea due to the breaking down of stomach lining. While these symptoms can be treated through other drug administration, there is no way to fully resume an aggressive chemotherapy treatment course without experiencing a loss of body vitality, along with the aforementioned symptoms. If you’re looking for an expert opinion on chemotherapy in Houston, or you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Miltenburg, call the Breast Institute of Houston today and set up an appointment.

After Your Breast Reconstruction: What to Expect

Choosing to undergo breast reconstruction surgery is a brave decision that has been proven to significantly decrease, if not eliminate your chances of breast cancer. The point of a reconstructive surgery is to regain the feeling and appearance of breasts for women who have gone through a mastectomy. There are two main options for reconstruction; implant surgery and free flap surgery, or an autologous breast reconstruction. If you chose to have an immediate reconstructive surgery following your mastectomy, the surgery will take about an hour longer, and your recovery time in the hospital will be more delayed. If you separated the two surgeries, recovery from a reconstruction can be an outpatient procedure where the patient is able to return to the comfort of their home on the same day they were admitted. If you’re in need of an incredible doctor to perform a breast reconstruction in Houston, look no further than the team at the Breast Health Institute of Houston.

Settling at Home

Once you have been discharged and have returned home, make sure someone is with you or has agreed to check in on you often throughout the coming weeks. Recovery is a slow and patient process that will require the help of others for tasks you are too sore or weak to do yourself. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest in your first few days at home. It is very important that you remember everything your surgeon told you about how best to recovery. Breast reconstruction patients in Houston have found it beneficial to keep a small list detailing recovery reminders with them through their time resting at home. Your doctors will have prescribed you pain management solutions for you to recover comfortably, so be sure to administer the medication as frequently as instructed. Do not ever exceed the prescribed dosage without talking with your doctor first to see if you need an adjustment in the amount.

Beyond the physical pain of reconstructive surgery, there is a mental pain that many patients experience. During your recovery time, it is natural to want to see how different your breasts look. Depending on the type of surgery you chose, the change could be substantial. Try not to dwell heavily on the way your body used to look, but instead try to commend yourself for being a fighter and a cancer survivor.

Continuing the Journey

After you have had plenty of time to heal and have begun to pick up more of your daily routines, your doctor will prescribe a physical therapy schedule. Your duration and frequency will depend on how substantial the reconstruction was, and whether you are resuming chemotherapy treatments. Physical therapy is a wonderful way for breast reconstructive Houston patients to regain mobility and strength while slowly learning how to perform daily tasks without causing injury to themselves. Because the sessions are monitored by medical professionals, the workouts are helpful, and the risk of injury is exponentially lower than if the patient was to try exercising on her own.

After about six weeks of recovery, most patients can return to work and their daily lives with little to no pain. At this stage of the reconstructive process, patients again begin to deal with the reality that their bodies have been through a significant change. It’s important in these moments to stay positive and remember that your body is incredibly strong. Once you’ve passed the three-month mark, you can begin talking to your surgeon about a nipple reconstruction. This surgery is completely optional, but if it will help you adjust to your new body, many patients have felt that it helps them. After a year of dedicated, patient recovery, your frequent doctor checkups will end, and your breasts will be very close to their final appearance. Congratulations on your incredible journey!

Office Locations

7400 Fannin Street, Suite 850C
Houston, Texas, 77054

8305 Knight Rd.
Houston, TX 77054

847 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Suite 104
Houston, TX 77090


713-432-1661, 281-754-4503

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