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The Top Tips for Breast Health

Top tips for breast health

When it comes to our breasts, there are several concerns. Many women worry about the appearance of their breasts, the signs of aging, and whether or not the bras they wear are actually giving them the support and comfort they need. Even more importantly, we worry about our health. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point. Our breast health is extremely important, and yet many women don’t know that there are factors they can actually control to reduce the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis. We call these the top tips for breast health.

For more information, visit the top breast cancer surgeon Houston has around.

The Top Tips for Breast Health

To give you a better understanding of what affects your breast health and what you can do to improve it, we have compiled a few tips for keeping your breasts healthy. Of course, none of them can guarantee that you will never develop cancer. You should continue to perform regular self-examinations and schedule your screenings at regular intervals to improve your chances of catching cancer early. Visit us for a safe and reliable mammogram Houston.

Keep an Eye on the Scale

More than two-thirds of the adult American population is medically overweight. It is a problem that can be linked to sedentary lifestyles and poor diet choices, and it can have a serious negative impact on health. Your breasts are no different. Not only can weight gain in the bust strain your back and contribute to premature sagging, but the extra weight could increase your risk of cancer.

When we gain weight, we do not create new fat cells. The existing fat cells grow. Fat cells produce estrogen, a naturally-occurring hormone that has been repeatedly linked to breast cancer. As the fat cells swell due to us consuming more calories than we use, the cells produce more estrogen. This increases the risk of developing cancer.

Now, no one is saying you have to obsess over your scale. Maintaining a healthy self-image and a positive relationship with food are vital to your mental and physical health. We each have an individual range where we feel good and our body is happy. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight range looks like for you based on your:

  • Height
  • Sex
  • Body type

This will give you a realistic idea of where you should be to maintain your health.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Stuck inside in one of the weirdest years many of us have ever experienced, it can be really tempting to drink more than we normally would. However, experts generally agree that we should limit ourselves to just one drink per 24 hour period. Women who drink more are statistically 50% more likely to develop breast cancer over their lifetime. So it’s a good idea to swap that second glass of wine for a little dark chocolate, which may actually help to kill cancer cells.

Grab Some Spinach

Spinach may not give us super strength, but Popeye had the right idea. Spinach is a key source of folic acid, a necessary part of our diet that plays a role in repairing DNA. Given that damaged DNA has been repeatedly linked to cancer, it’s definitely worth mixing a bag of spinach into your favorite pasta or salad. However, if you’re really not a fan of spinach, then broccoli, brusselsprouts, and even kidney beans are other good sources of folic acid.

Breast Health and Checkups

These are just a few choices you can make that directly benefit the health of your breasts. By maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and regularly consuming foods rich in folic acid, you can personally reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in this life. Should you find a lump or receive an abnormal mammogram result, remember to stay calm and deal with the problem as rationally as you can. Breast Health Institute Houston will guide you every step of the way. So you can get back to enjoying your life cancer-free.

Can Breast Cancer be Misdiagnosed?

Can breast cancer be misdiagnosed?

Over the past few decades, medical professionals have significantly improved their ability to diagnose and treat breast cancer. As long as you do a self-examination about once a month and start annual mammograms at age 45, you and your medical care team should be able to detect any possible cancer long before it becomes life-threatening. Unfortunately, when it comes to distinguishing whether or not a lump is cancerous, we are still working within an imperfect system. So can breast cancer be misdiagnosed?

We provide patients with the best breast cancer surgeon Houston has available. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for our patients.

Being Diagnosed: Can Breast Cancer Be Misdiagnosed?

If your initial mammogram reveals the presence of a lump, then your doctor will want to proceed with further diagnostic testing. They may do a second mammogram to get a better look at the suspected lump. Sometimes the presence of the lump still can’t be explained. In this case, your doctor will want to move forward to more invasive testing. This is the biopsy.

To do a biopsy, your doctor will need to remove a small piece of tissue from the lump. It’s a small operation where a specialist will make a small incision in the breast and then insert a needle to pull out the sample. The sample is then preserved and processed so that a highly-trained pathologist can study it under a microscope.

During their examination, the pathologist will use a dye to more carefully observe the physical attributes of the sample to help determine if the lump in your breast is cancerous. However, telling the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous tissue isn’t as easy as it seems. Even trained specialists with years of experience sometimes disagree as to whether a specific sample needs to be treated as cancer. Unfortunately, a misdiagnosis at this stage could make all the difference for you.

Can Breast Cancer Be Misdiagnosed? Getting a Second Opinion

Regardless of the cancer, you should always try to get a breast cancer second opinion Houston. Whether before going through surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. It is as simple as having the lab send your samples to a lab that specializes in the type of cancer you may have. There may be excellent pathologists in the first lab. But if breast cancer isn’t something they review every, single day, then they are more likely to misdiagnose. All cancers present in slightly different ways. So you will have the best chance of an accurate diagnosis if you request to send samples to a specialized lab.

At Breast Health Institute Houston, Dr. Miltenburg wants to ensure that you don’t have to go through the emotional strain of a misdiagnosis. That is where the second opinion/breast tumor conference comes into play. With years of specialized training focused on identifying and treating breast cancer, they will be able to look at your biopsy with eyes trained to look at breast tissue and identify cancerous growths in that region of the body.

From there, Dr. Miltenburg can discuss treatment options. These may be in line with your initial doctor’s recommendations, but they may not be. If Dr. Miltenburg suggests a different course, then it is important to have a candid conversation with both of your doctors. Ask for the rationale behind their plan of action. And ask for a third opinion from another qualified professional if you find yourself torn between differing opinions.

Feeling Safe in Your Diagnosis

There is no way to make a cancer diagnosis feel good. It’s frightening and life changing. If you are about to put yourself through surgery and treatment, then you should know that it’s necessary. Getting a second opinion and putting your trust in those who specialize in breast cancer will allow you to at least feel confident that you are taking the right steps towards recovery.

Finding Support During Chemotherapy

Finding support during chemotherapy

Chemotherapy treatment can be the most challenging time of your life, but you aren’t alone: here are tips for finding support during chemotherapy.

There is nothing quite like hearing a cancer diagnosis. The threat of mortality, the lost possibilities, and a future filled with uncertainty are aspects that no one can ignore. Yet, we constantly see images of the stoic cancer patient in media. These characters that just sit there, somehow totally at peace with their diagnosis, are not something that you have to aspire to be. You are allowed to be scared. You are allowed to be angry. These are all normal emotions that you should feel. However, it is possible to let them consume you, which could harm your chances of reaching a full recovery.

The Complications of Chemo

Learning to recognize your negative emotions without letting them take over your life is hard enough. Chemotherapy adds an additional challenge. Depending on the type of chemotherapy and the dosage, personal experiences can vary. You might feel nauseated or fatigued. You could lose your hair or develop mouth sores. Many patients have vomiting and diarrhea. The more severe symptoms usually resolve in the first week or so after treatment, but you may still experience fatigue and some nausea 6-12 months after your treatment is complete.

These symptoms make it far more difficult to maintain your mental health, contributing to higher cases of depression in cancer patients. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be one of them. By learning to cope with chemotherapy, both mentally and physically, you can maintain a sense of control when you need it most. To get started, you’ll need to build a team of people around you. No one should ever have to fight cancer alone, so you’ll need people in your corner.

The Health Experts

Be open with the medical staff at Breast Health Institute Houston. Dr. Darlene Miltenburg is an top breast cancer surgeon in Houston and has years of experience working with cancer patients. If you are feeling overwhelmed, your doctor needs to know. From there, they can help you find the care you need, whether physical or mental.

The Support Group

One way to start finding support during chemotherapy is support groups. Support groups aren’t for everyone, but there are so many different versions now that you may find something that works for you. Support groups aren’t just for sharing how you feel. It’s an important space where you don’t have to feel alone, where your experiences are validated. It is also a space where other patients can share tips to make chemotherapy more palatable. Some women suggest carrying mints at all times. They help stimulate saliva production, preventing dry mouth, something your doctor might not always think to tell you because it’s so common sense to them at this point.

The Family

Whether your family was created by blood or by choice, having family around is the best way to cope with chemotherapy. You will want to prepare for at least a week of possible downtime after each treatment, more if you are older or have health complications. Ask family members to help you meal-prep ahead of time and make arrangements for someone to help you with transport when necessary. There is nothing wrong with leaning on your family during one of the most difficult parts of your life.

The Organizations

Did you know there are entire organizations dedicated to making life easier for cancer patients? The truth is that there are dozens. Cleaning for a Reason can help you have a professional clean your home while you undergo treatment. It may sound trivial at first, but it makes a huge difference, especially if you have children or pets in the home. Don’t be afraid to ask about local organizations at your support group and get the help you need.

Beyond Chemo

There are dozens of tips and tricks to making chemotherapy more bearable, but at the end of the day it is the network of professionals and friends you surround yourself with that will make the greatest difference. Finding support during chemotherapy is one of the best choices you can make.

The Link between Smoking and Breast Cancer

Smoking and breast cancer are quite strongly linked.

It is a well-established fact that smoking negatively impacts your health. The carbon monoxide expressed lowers the level of oxygenation in your blood, slowing down the healing process and general cell regeneration. The chemical mixture that is fast-tracked into your lungs is laced with carcinogens and other harmful materials. The result is that the average smoker’s lifespan is ten years shorter than the average lifespan of a non-smoker.

Unfortunately, the harm from smoking affects more than just the lungs. Bronchitis and lung cancer remain two of the leading causes of death for people who smoke. Still, heart disease, stroke, and other cancers that target the thoracic and abdominal regions are also more common in smokers. This appears to include breast cancer.

Research in Progress

With a notable increase in breast cancer among premenopausal women over the past forty years, researchers have become increasingly interested in what factors put younger women at risk. Smoking has recently become part of their inquiries, with researchers tentatively agreeing that smoking does increase the likelihood that a tumor will form in the breast at an earlier age than may typically be expected.

These same researchers, as well as the authors of several other studies performed over the past five years, do state that further research is needed. With the current data set and limited chronological scope, it is difficult to assess the direct correlation between smoking and increased risk of breast cancer. However, the existing research is compelling enough for medical professionals to have yet another reason to urge their patients to quit smoking.

Asking for Help

Nicotine addiction is a serious medical issue, but you don’t need to be ashamed. We now understand the chemical process behind dopamine-dependent addiction better than ever. That knowledge has allowed medical professionals and psychologists to combine their expertise to create pathways that can work without the stigma.

If you have decided to quit for you and your family, then there are a whole host of options that can help you beat addiction. If one approach doesn’t work for you, then don’t give up. Most people have to try quitting several times before they succeed. That option may not be the right one for you, but the question remains: where do you start?

It can be tempting to just try to go it alone. You may have picked up some nicotine gum in the past. Perhaps you didn’t even tell anyone you were trying to quit. The truth is you are probably going to need a team to quit permanently. In order to build that team, start with your doctor.

Start Honest, Stay Honest

When you first speak with your doctor, it is essential that you are completely honest regarding the intensity of your dependence. They need to know how many cigarettes you usually go through per day. And they may also want to know what your withdrawals are like when you have to delay a cigarette break. This information will help them to prepare you for what may happen during the quitting process. On their end, they will be able to advise you on the physical side and suggest ameliorative products for severe withdrawals. They may also be able to put you in touch with local support groups and therapists.

For additional help finding resources that will support your emotional and mental health during this challenging process, you can contact SAMHSA at 1-800-662-4357. They provide treatment referral services for individuals struggling with addiction and mental health. It is one hundred percent confidential and free, so you have nothing to lose.

Smoking with Cancer

If you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, then the need to quit is more vital than ever. Given the effects of smoking on the healing process, continuing to smoke can seriously harm your chances of surviving surgery and treatment. In short, smoking and breast cancer are a rough combination.

Unfortunately, with the emotional and physical stress that accompanies a breast cancer diagnosis, quitting will be even more difficult. For assistance, talk to the staff at Breast Health Institute Houston about what resources are available to help you quit.

Everything You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Support Groups

Breast cancer support groups can provide emotional support during trying tims

There is never a convenient time for a cancer diagnosis. Regardless of your financial position and familial support, breast cancer is disruptive and destructive, with a multitude of associated costs. The team at Breast Health Institute Houston does everything in its power to ensure all patients receive the care and support they need, but it is okay to need more. One way is through breast cancer support groups.

Whether you’re concerned about medical bills, child care, or just need emotional support, there are resources that you can use to bring more stability to your everyday life. Although there are big national names like Cancer Care, the Pink Fund, and the Breast Cancer Charities of America, you can also find many local resources to help you build a much-needed community.

The Necessity of Support

Professional group leaders and fellow cancer patients/survivors can aid you in the fight against isolation that haunts so many cancer patients. When friends and family don’t know what to say or how to help, you may need other people who have shared your experience to step in.

In finding a community that understands, you open yourself up to opportunities to re-build and reconnect with those who may have taken a step back during one of the most trying parts of your life.

There is no shame in needing help. We are a naturally social species that relies on community for every aspect of life. However, everyone approaches cancer differently, so you will need to identify what kind of support group is right for you. Here are a few factors to consider.

What is their Focus?


If you are the kind of person who feels that being informed allows you to feel more control over your situation, then an educationally-centered group may be what is right for you. These kinds of support groups are usually led by professionals with medical experience, allowing for an open discussion of the science and medicine behind your treatment plan. These groups also center the lived experience by encouraging current patients and survivors to share what treatment was like for them to help prepare and support others in the group.

Emotional Support

The emotional toll associated with breast cancer is one of the most carefully studied phenomena in the field. There is no denying that breast cancer patients experience emotional trauma that puts their mental health at risk. If, for any reason, you feel that you are not receiving enough emotional support, use the national resources listed above and your oncologist to find local support groups that focus on emotional health.

What Commitments are Required?

Open Membership

These breast cancer support groups don’t require you to commit to a set number of meetings. If you’re unsure about whether group sessions are for you, then this may be a good place to start. However, it may be more challenging to form a consistent community, as people rotate in and out as they please.

Closed Membership

If you need consistency, then a closed group may work better. Once a set number of people register, the group sessions begin. You commit to attending a certain number of sessions, and the people in your group remain the same from beginning to end. If you feel you need someone to hold you accountable for attending, closed groups may work for you.

Who Leads the Group?


In these cases, a professional psychologist or social worker will lead the group. They use scientifically proven exercises to help members reconnect and re-establish control in their lives. Given their training, it may be best for patients who are experiencing feelings of anger, resentment, and loss to seek out a support group with a professional lead.


No one understands the reality of cancer quite like a survivor. So, it is no surprise that many patients prefer to attend breast cancer support groups led by people who have experienced cancer themselves. These groups are fully capable of providing advice on how to deal with cancer in the everyday. However, these are not medical professionals, so you should maintain a constant dialog with your medical team.

How Do They Meet?

In Person

For many cancer patients and survivors, existing in the same physical space as people who understand is an important part of the healing process. These meetings typically take place at set times over the week.


In-person meetings aren’t practical for everyone, though. If you work an unusual shift or simply don’t have time for yet another commitment, online groups like What Next can provide real-time answers from fellow cancer patients and survivors.

No matter what works for you, remember that you aren’t alone. The people around you may care and want to help, but it is okay to feel that it isn’t enough. It is okay to need to talk to people who have experienced the same difficulties and traumas that you have. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When to Get a Mammogram

Knowing when to get a mammogram is vital

Considering our mortality is an exercise that most of us would prefer to avoid. As a result, undergoing regular, preventative care can be a stressful practice, but it is also necessary if we want to enjoy more time on this earth. Mammograms are no exception. Knowing when to get a mammogram is essential to your health.

In a lot of cases, people think of mammograms as something reserved for older women. Historically this was the case. Women would often wait until they were in their 50s or 60s to get their first mammogram, but the perceived increase in breast cancer cases in younger women is changing that perception.

At Breast Institute Houston, breast cancer prevention is our highest priority.

Shifting the Bar

A recent report out of Yale states that about 11% of breast cancer patients are under the age of 45. It may not seem like a lot, but it means that younger women should certainly be paying attention to their breast health before entering menopause. According to the same report, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 26,393 women under 45 will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

In response to growing awareness of this issue, many health care providers suggest that all women begin receiving annual mammograms at the age of 45. The American Cancer Association makes this recommendation with the caveat that women with genetic risk factors should be given the option to undergo annual mammograms starting at the age of 40.

Prior to age 40, women are still considered to be in a low-risk category. However, you should undoubtedly continue regular breast examinations. It may seem like a troublesome exercise, but women are being diagnosed with breast cancer as early as their twenties. Performing regular self-examinations allows you to create a baseline.

To recognize an abnormality in its earliest stages, you have to have a sense of their normal topography. By performing regular self-exams, the somewhat lumpy tissue that makes up the lactation system of the breast will become more recognizable, allowing you to discern when something doesn’t feel quite right.

Performing a Self-Examination

The National Breast Cancer Foundation suggests that all women should perform a self-examination once per month, as 40% of all breast cancer cases are initially discovered by the patient.

There are three distinct steps to a complete self-examination.

Visual Exam

In some cases, lumps caused by breast cancer are visible. During your self-examination, you should stand in front of a mirror. First, check for any inconsistencies in the curvature of your breasts. Make sure to check up to the collar-bone, underneath the breast, underneath the armpit, and the breast tissue that continues to wrap around to your back.

Standing Upright

To check for lumps by touch, take the three fingers of your dominant hand and use their flattened pads to scan your breast. To ensure a full exam, start on one side and press lightly onto the skin as you run your fingers in a vertical path down. Continue to move across the breast and make a vertical pass with your fingers each time.

This approach may feel weird to you, given the shape of breasts. However, using the vertical scanning method allows a level of consistency that will improve your ability to recognize something out of the ordinary. Also, it prevents the possibility of missing part of your breast.

As with the visual test, make sure you start at the collar-bone and continue your vertical sweep to the very bottom of the breast. You also want to make sure you check the tissue under your armpit and around to your back where your bra-strap would normally be located.

Laying Down

The last part of your self-examination makes it a little easier, especially if you have larger breasts. By laying down, you allow the bulk of your breast tissue to naturally flatten a bit. For comfort, place a pillow under the shoulder of the breast you’re going to check and put the arm behind your head. Follow the same technique as when you were standing.

If You Find a Lump

If you feel something out of the ordinary, then you’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination. They’ll follow up with scheduling when to get a mammogram if something feels out of the ordinary.

For your mammogram, the American Cancer Society suggests wearing a skirt or pants for your own comfort during the exam. Additionally, they warn that you should avoid wearing antiperspirant or deodorant, which can obscure your results.

During the exam, the technician will have to physically place your breasts to ensure a good image. You should inform the office when you make an appointment if you would prefer a female technician. It is important to us that you feel comfortable during the exam.

The process does require flattening your breasts to achieve the required images. Fortunately, this only lasts a few seconds per image, and your technician will do their best to ensure your comfort.

Preparing for News

Knowing when to get a mammogram is essential to early detection and treatment. If your mammogram reveals a potentially cancerous mass, then it is time to start planning for your future. At Breast Health Institute Houston, Dr. Miltenburg specializes in giving breast cancer patients the care and support they need. We provide a range of breast tumor treatment options. Contact our office for an initial consultation to get all of your questions answered and to start building the medical support network you may need in the coming months.

What to Expect After a Mastectomy

Life after a mastectomy

Whether your mastectomy is preventative or a response to a positive cancer diagnosis, the honest truth is that this surgery is incredibly hard on most women. Those of us who have watched our mothers, aunts, sisters, etc. undergo a mastectomy already have some idea of how physically and emotionally draining this particular surgery can be. However, a second-hand experience is ultimately removed from the actual experience.

In preparation for your procedure, Dr. Darlene M. Miltenburg at Breast Health Institute Houston will have already spoken to you about post-surgical care. What she may not have spoken to you about yet is the mental and emotional toll that this procedure often takes on women, so let us take a few minutes to discuss your physical and your mental health post-mastectomy.

The Physical Toll

This topic receives a lot of coverage, mostly because many patients appear to initially assume that their surgeon is overly cautious. Erika Archer Lewis attacks this concept in no uncertain terms. Her article, “5 Tips from my Mastectomy Experience,” describes the recovery period as a rollercoaster. She notes that at about three weeks after surgery, she was feeling well and decided to ignore her surgeon’s warning to take a full six weeks off. Hours later, her back and shoulders went into spasm, completely incapacitating her. It’s a lesson that she urges all other women to learn from.

Whether or not you start to feel better, it is imperative that you listen to your surgeon’s specific instructions. These may vary depending on the type of mastectomy you are receiving or the amount of tissue being removed, but their expertise should be respected if you want to give your body the best chance at healing.

Yes, this will generally mean that you will need to call in every favor you’ve amassed. You will need to rely on your partner, your family, and your friends for everything from child care to cleaning to meal preparation, and there is nothing wrong with that. At this moment in your life, the only thing you should be focusing on is healing.

The Mental Toll

Unfortunately, focusing on healing can be difficult after having a mastectomy. So much has changed. You are suddenly utterly reliant on other people. Your body is unrecognizable. In a sense, you’re experiencing grief. Grief over a part of your body that you assumed would always be there.

Sure, from the outside, it is easy to say, “they’re just breasts,” but, in reality, your self-image has been partially erased. You can’t even hug someone without pain. My own mother cried for months every time one of her young children tried to lay their heads on her chest. There was no tissue, nothing to cushion the weight of her child against her ribs.

Experiencing grief is normal. You have to give yourself the space to process your loss before you move on. Fortunately, there are things you can do to give yourself a boost and maintain a sense of normalcy after your surgery.


First, if you’re in a romantic relationship, then you need to discuss boundaries with your partner post-surgery. Given that you will be healing for up to two months, it is easy to lose that easy, sexual intimacy you had before, especially if you’re feeling self-conscious. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. Without open communication, you may both end up feeling unwanted, leading to a serious rift in your relationship.


Second, once your recovery period is over, go shopping. Live Better with Cancer has a great blog devoted to what you should wear during your recovery period. But afterwards, it is going to be essential to pick out a few items that you feel attractive in. Picking out delicate lingerie is a great start. Aim for items that will cover your scars and allow you to feel beautiful again. Silky camisoles usually do the trick. It sounds vain, but it is vital to rebuild your self-image after surgery.

Help is Available

Positive sexuality and self-image are important to a lot of people. Still, the ultimate goal after a mastectomy is to make sure that your relationships stay healthy and you don’t lose any feeling of self-worth. If you’re struggling to cope or are experiencing feelings of worthlessness, then please contact your surgeon. Their offices will be able to connect you with local support groups and therapists.

If you begin to experience suicide ideation, then please call the National Suicide Prevention Line. Although relatively few breast cancer patients commit suicide, they are 37% more likely to do so than the general population. Any symptoms of depression should be taken seriously, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

How Long Does it Take to Treat Breast Cancer?

Pink breast cancer ribbon on alarm clock

There are many factors to consider when determining how long breast cancer takes to treat. Even your doctor will only be able to give estimates based on how far your cancer has spread through the breast tissue and where it has metastasized if it has metastasized at all.

Their estimates are based on decades of experience and medical research. However, you should still ask your doctor to give you two estimates, one that imagines everything going to plan and one that factors in common complications. Taking all factors into consideration, the Mayo Clinic suggests that the average treatment length for breast cancer can be divided into two categories: early-stage breast cancer and advanced breast cancer. When trying to figure out how long breast cancer takes to treat, it’s important to start here.

If you’re lucky and catch your condition early on, then your breast cancer treatment will generally last between three and six months. This assumes there is no further growth while you are undergoing treatment. In more advanced cases, you should typically expect a minimum of six months of treatment. How far it goes beyond that depends on how many surgeries you need and how far the cancer has spread.

Survival Happens Every Day

These rough estimates for how long breast cancer takes to treat can be helpful to plan your life around treatment. More importantly, they provide a light at the end of the tunnel for you to focus on. However, for your daily sanity, it may be better to break down your treatment into smaller parts. Take it from one day to the next. Remember, every day you make it, you’re already winning. These factors all affect how long breast cancer takes to treat.


In some cases, where the tumor is still relatively small, your doctor may choose to administer a cycle of chemotherapy prior to surgery. This attempts to shrink the tumor. There are a number of reasons your doctor may suggest this practice. The Mayo Clinic states that it is sometimes used to establish how the tumor reacts to treatment in order to establish a clearer prognosis. In other cases, the pre-surgery chemotherapy may increase the odds of the tumor’s complete removal. All with minimal damage to the surrounding tissues and lymphatic system. However, this is limited to the earliest stages of breast cancer.

For mid-level to advanced cases, surgery almost always precedes other forms of treatment. Science-Based Medicine warns patients that this step may not always happen as quickly as they would expect, but that a delay of a few weeks makes no marked difference in their survival statistics. This time is ideal for your surgeon to schedule your surgery and for you to prepare for the coming challenge. warns patients to not panic or rush their initial surgery. It is perfectly fine to take that vacation you booked months ago or visit your family over the holidays unless your doctor says otherwise. They will tell you if surgery can’t wait.

Dr. Marlene Miltenburg of Breast Health Institute Houston estimates that recovery from surgery typically takes two weeks. As a result, the average patient takes between six and eight weeks to make the transition from diagnosis to post-surgical recovery if they are able to schedule surgery within the first month.


Although some early cases can be treated with radiation therapy, many breast cancer patients have to go through chemotherapy. Medical News Today’s professionally-reviewed article explains that your doctor’s approach to chemotherapy will vary based on your condition. Typically, they will sketch out a plan based on your prognosis. Keep in mind they will monitor progress with every course of chemotherapy you undergo.

A course of chemotherapy can range from one dose to several given over a set period of time. The dosage and frequency will vary based on the individual. Once you’ve completed a course, blood tests will ascertain your body’s response. Chemotherapy is far from pleasant, but each course is a definitive marker you can use to track your progress as you go.

Keeping Cancer in its Place

It’s frustrating when you don’t know exactly how long this nightmare will last, but every step you take has the opportunity to give you hope if you’re willing to treat it as progress. Whether your battle with cancer lasts for three months, six months, or a year, the most important thing is to create a support network you can rely on. Explain to family and friends what you really need from them rather than letting their fear control your life and find a doctor you can really trust.

Coping with Chemo: What to Expect and How to Handle it

Bald woman sitting on yoga mat happy

A breast cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience. There’s no denying that simple fact. To do otherwise would ignore everything your body has meant to you. Imminent surgery is already a lot to handle. You will have to decide with your doctor how you want to approach it. You can maintain a level of control in regard to your decision of when or if to have reconstructive surgery; however, when it comes to chemotherapy, control can often seem out of reach. This can make coping with chemotherapy very difficult.

Continue reading “Coping with Chemo: What to Expect and How to Handle it”

Exercise and its Relationship to Breast Cancer

Even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, the possibility of developing of cancer is a commonsense concern for most people. If you’ve ever had a brush with cancer, even via a close friend or family member, then you have some idea of how abruptly a diagnosis can seem to throw your entire world upside down. As a result, we spend hours of our lives researching antioxidants and risk factors. However, there is one element you probably aren’t paying enough attention to: exercise.

Evidence and Exercise

Recent medical studies focusing on the relationship between breast cancer and exercise divide the correlation into three separate spheres: prevention, resiliency, and remission. One synthetic work published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has become the gold standard for this discussion, as its combination of a multitude of studies positively identified exercise as a beneficial action in the prevention and handling of breast cancer.

Admittedly, this study was performed in 2006 and only 14 of the 136 studies identified met their inclusion criteria; fortunately, scientists continue to study the benefits of exercise in relation to breast cancer with positive results. A group of scientists associated with the Health Studies Center in Toronto, Canada recently released their own review of 67 published studies focusing on the effects of exercise on remission and mortality rates.

Their work demonstrated that regular exercise reduced breast cancer recurrence and mortality by 40%. The group does include one caveat, indicating that there is a possibility that weight maintenance is a contributing factor. Their study also revealed that patients in remission who gained more than 10% of their body weight saw increased risk of mortality.

How it Affects You

Percentages and decimal points can feel abstract when you’re trying to digest them without scientific training. The core point is that exercise helps your body to maintain a proper balance, which decreases your risk of developing cancer in the first place and helps keep you healthy through treatment and beyond.

Additionally, studies focused on quality of life during cancer treatment do show that exercise has a positive influence on patients. The study, performed by the University of Alberta’s Cross Cancer Institute found that chemotherapy patients who regularly exercised demonstrated higher levels of self-esteem and higher rates of chemotherapy completion. The scientists theorize that the two combined perpetuate patients’ perception of a higher quality of life, even when there is no measurable increase, as well as their chances of going into remission without recurrence.

What Can You Do?

Measuring proper exercise levels is a complicated business that revolves around your body type, eating habits, and time spent sedentary. Fortunately, the American Cancer Society has some basic guidelines to help you determine whether you’re exercising enough. The most current estimates suggest that all adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. You could potentially shove this into a couple of sessions, but their research suggests that it is better to pace yourself throughout the week, doing 20 to 30 minutes per day. Alternatively, if you prefer vigorous exercise, then 75 minutes per week is enough to meet their minimum requirements.

Your focus should be to maintain a healthy weight according to your body type, height, and age. There’s no need to turn into a fitness guru to protect your health. You just have to stay moderately active and take care of yourself, so throw on that sports bra, and go for a jog. Your efforts to prevent cancer can start today. If you’ve already been diagnosed, then remember that exercise is still an important part of your own treatment plan. Speak to your doctor at Breast Health Institute Houston about when it is safe to resume regular exercise after surgery and during chemotherapy.

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