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.

Continue reading “The Stages of Breast Cancer Explained”

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.

What are the Different Types of Breast Cancer?

Different Types of Breast Cancer

As technology advances, breast cancer screenings are catching breast cancer earlier and earlier. We are more vigilant about our health, and have access to technology that allows us to live much longer lives. With that, however, comes the fact that with longer lives comes a longer window within which to develop a disease like breast cancer. Despite our increased access to information and knowledge about our own health, not everyone understands the different types of breast cancer. With the help of the best breast cancer doctor in Houston, Dr. Miltenburg, we can begin to explore the ways in which breast cancer spread.

Breast cancer can begin in many different areas of the breast: the ducts, the lobules, and in some cases the tissues in-between. Just as there are many different areas where the cancer can begin, there are many different types of breast cancer, too. Understanding the differences between the types of cancer and what their risks and signs are is important for all people concerned about their breast health. Below, we will explain the different types of breast cancer so you can increase your knowledge of this disease.

According to BreastCancer.org, these are the different types of breast cancer. Below, we will explain some of the specific characteristics of each type of breast cancer.

● Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

DCIS is the most commonly seen form of non-invasive breast cancer and it originates in the milk ducts, carcinoma referring to any type of cancer that starts in skin or other tissues that surround or line your internal organs. DCIS is considered non-invasive because it has not yet spread to any surrounding tissues and is isolated to the ducts.

● Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

IDC is the most common form of breast cancer, making up almost 80% of all cases. It is considered invasive because it has spread to surrounding breast tissues, unlike DCIS which remains isolated to the ducts. In the United States, more than 180,000 women are diagnosed with IDC every year.

● Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast

This is a type of IDC and is usually very small and shaped like a tube. This type of tumor is usually small and grows slowly. Although these tubes are very small, with current mammography technology, they are more frequently diagnosed prior to you or your doctor feeling a lump.

● Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast

This is another type of IDC and is characterized by a small, soft, fleshy tumor and usually afflicts women in their 40s and 50s. They do not grow quickly or spread far, and are considered one of the easier types of breast cancer to treat.

● Mucinous Carcinoma of the Breast

Another form of IDC, a mucinous carcinoma is quite rare. The tumors of a mucinous carcinoma are made up of abnormal cells. This type of cancer is less aggressive than others, responds well to treatment and usually impacts women who are post-menopausal or in their 60s and 70s.

● Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast

Another IDC form, papillary carcinomas are extremely rare, making up less than 2% of diagnosed cases, and are usually found in women who are postmenopausal.

● Cribriform Carcinoma of the Breast

Another form of IDC, cribriform carcinomas invade breast tissue in formations that are “nestlike” between lobules and ducts.

● Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

ILC is the second most commonly diagnosed form of breast cancer, making up about 10% of all invasive breast cancers. This type of cancer begins in the milk-producing lobules and has spread to surrounding tissue. ILC is known to spread to other parts of the body and makes up about two thirds of invasive breast cancer diagnoses of women aged 55 and older.

● Inflammatory Breast Cancer

IBC is an aggressive and unusual form of breast cancer, making up about 1% of all diagnosed cases and is characterized by a distinct lump. This type of cancer can grow very quickly, and it’s important that someone experiencing symptoms of IBC seek treatment immediately.

● Male Breast Cancer

Less than 1% of breast cancer cases are found in men. Men, too, have breast tissue, and men who take certain medications or have abnormal hormone levels are known to be diagnosed with the illness, despite how unlikely it is.

● Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast

Phyllodes tumors are extremely rare, making up less than 1% of known cases. These tumors grow in a leaf like pattern and grow very quickly, rarely spreading beyond breast tissue. Some of these tumors are benign and some are malignant.

Breast Cancer Doctor in Houston

At the Breast Institute of Houston, we aim to help all patients who have suffered breast cancer and educate those who aren’t knowledgeable about the risks and symptoms of this illness. Please contact the top breast cancer doctor in Houston to learn more about what we can do for you!

What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Symptoms

A woman’s breast health can change throughout her life and is the result of age, environment and genetics. According to BreastCancer.org, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women in 2017, along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

This is why it is important to know the breast cancer symptoms and signs so you can make informed decisions about your own health. Read on to know what to look for and what actions you should be taking with your breast cancer doctor in Houston.

Benign Breast Changes

There are some very common, benign or noncancerous changes in breast health that you should be aware of. These changes can include generalized breast lumpiness, enlargement of the lymph nodes, breast pain, and nipple discharge. Some women also suffer from fibroadenomas or painless, moveable and firm round lumps in the breast. Some also suffer from damaged fatty tissue (fat necrosis), intraductal papillomas or growths inside the ducts or thrombophlebitis, also known as inflamed blood vessels.

If a woman has had breast implants, this adds another level of potential issues. If the breast is injured, the implant can shift, rupture or leak which can cause a whole host of issues. In cases like this, the implant might harden, change shape or position or develop ripples and could even require removal.

Early Detection is Key

The two most common methods of early detection include a clinical breast exam and a mammogram. A clinical breast exam is performed during your routine physical. Your doctor will check the breast and under the arms for any lumps or unusual changes. Mammograms are x-rays of the breast tissue and can often detect lumps that are too small for you or your doctor to feel in a clinical or self breast examination. Some experts believe mammograms should be done beginning at age 40, while others believe age 50 is the magic number. Check with your doctor to determine what the best course of action is for you.

Self breast examinations are also an important tool in early detection, however they should not take the place of mammograms and clinical examinations. You can check your breasts by looking in a mirror and by standing and lying in different positions to feel for lumps and look for obvious physical changes.

Other breast cancer symptoms that you should watch out for include:

• Changes in the skin, like puckering or dimpling, or changes in the shape of the breast.

• Nipple discharge (treatable with nipple ductoscopy), especially if it is bloody or greenish in color, or if it is watery or milky and occurs without pressure on the nipple or breast.

• The area around the nipple becomes darker or there is a change in the color or feel of the skin.

• They nipple begins to draw inward or develops scaly skin.

• Any breast problem that lasts more than two weeks or pain that continues and is not caused by an injury.

• Signs of infection such as pain, swelling, redness or warmth.

If you detect a lump in your breast, armpit or chest, especially if it is hard and unlike the rest of the surrounding tissues, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Breast Cancer Center in Houston

Any changes in health can be concerning. It’s important to work with a breast cancer center in Houston and medical professionals who understand the latest research and know the options available to give you the best outcome possible. Dr. Darlene Miltenburg and the team at the Breast Health Institute Houston can guide you in the next steps you might need to take if you suspect something may be wrong with your breasts. Don’t wait if you have concerns about your breast health. Contact the top breast cancer doctor in Houston today and schedule a consultation.

Top Disproved Risks of Breast Cancer

 

breast cancer causes

There are many factors that research has shown are not linked to and breast cancer symptoms. You may see information online or hear about these disproved or controversial risk factors, but it is important to learn the facts before digesting false information. Here are the top disproved risks of breast cancer.

Antiperspirants

Research on deodorant and antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk was driven by concerns that chemicals found in these products might enter the skin in the underarm and cause changes in breast cells that could lead to cancer.

However, studies have found no link between deodorant and antiperspirant use and breast cancer risk. Based on the available evidence (including what we know about how the body works), there is little if any reason to believe that antiperspirants increase the risk of breast cancer.

Bras and Underwire Bras

Scientific evidence does not support a link between wearing an underwire bra (or any type of bra) and breast cancer risk. There is no biological reason the two would be linked. Any observed relationship is likely due to other factors.

Although wearing a bra does not appear to be linked to breast cancer risk, breast size is under study as a potential risk factor.

Induced abortion

Several studies have provided very strong data that neither induced abortions nor spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) contribute to breast cancer causes.

Breast implants

Several studies have found that breast implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer, although silicone breast implants can cause scar tissue to form in the breast. Implants make breast tissue harder to see on standard mammograms, but additional x-ray pictures called implant displacement views can be used to examine the breast tissue more completely.

Certain types of breast implants can be linked to a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). It is sometimes referred to as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This lymphoma appears to happen more often in implants with textured (rough) surfaces rather than smooth surfaces. If ALCL does show up after an implant, it can show as a lump, a collection of fluid near the implant, pain, swelling or asymmetry (uneven breasts). It usually responds well to treatment.

Caffeine

Most cohort studies to date have found no link between drinking either coffee or tea and the risk of breast cancer.

Trauma to the breast

There is no evidence to support a link between trauma or injury to the breast and risk of breast cancer.

Exposure to certain types of pesticides and industrial chemicals

Environmental pollutants have been suggested as potential causes of breast cancer because many of these compounds have estrogen-like traits. Some of the most common and well-studied environmental pollutants are organochlorines. A good way to measure exposure to these chemicals is by looking at their levels in a person’s blood. The results of most studies looking at blood organochlorine levels and risk of breast cancer have found no link between the two.

Cell Phones

Studies show no link between cell phone use and the risk of breast cancer (or other types of cancer).

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches may be related to changing estrogen levels in a woman’s body. Since estrogen is related to breast cancer risk, migraines have been studied as a possible risk factor for breast cancer. However, cohort studies found no difference in breast cancer risk between women with and without a history of migraines.

Breast Health Institute Houston

If you have further questions about breast cancer causes or are interested in seeking treatment, Dr. Miltenburg and the Breast Health Institute of Houston is the place for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

The Different Techniques for a Breast Biopsy

breast biopsy techniques

In a breast biopsy or mammogram, tissue is taken from the breast and examined under the microscope in order to determine whether or not cancer is present. There are different breast biopsy techniques. These include: Fine needle aspiration, also known as FNA, image-guided core needle biopsy, and excisional biopsy.

FNA

Fine needle aspiration, which is also known as FNA, is among the least invasive breast biopsy techniques. It is often used when the doctor suspects a cyst or to biopsy a lymph node. A problem with FNA is if malignant cells are seen, the pathologist may not be ale to tell if the cancer is invasive or non invasive. This distinction is very important because it guides treatment decisions. If cancer is diagnosed on FNA, additional biopsies may be essential.

Core Needle Biopsy

This technique is used when an abnormality is seen on breast imaging such as mammogram, ultrasound or MRI. If mammogram is used to guide the biopsy, it’s called a stereotactic biopsy. Otherwise it is called an ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy or MRI-guided core needle biopsy. This procedure is typically done by a radiologist but it can also be performed by a surgeon.

The skin is cleansed and the area is usually anesthetized with local anesthetic. A small incision is made in the skin with a scalpel. Then a needle is inserted into the area of concern and several very small cores of tissue are removed. The doctor will take 3 cores or as many as necessary to be confident about the pathology results.

A small titanium tissue marker (clip or chip) is placed in the area of the breast where the tissue was removed from. A mammogram is taken after the biopsy to document that the clip is in the correct position. Clip location should be recorded in the procedure note. The pathology report must be interpreted along with the procedure note.

The procedure note is only complete when the doctor who performed the biopsy has reviewed the pathology report. When results are concordant, the findings and recommendations are taken at face value. Findings are discordant when the imaging and pathology don’t fit.

Excisional Biopsy

This may also be referred to as an open surgical biopsy. An excisional biopsy / open surgical biopsy can be performed with or without localization. Breast lesions that cannot be felt (palpated) on physical/clinical examination but are only seen on imaging need wire-localization.

A thin guide-wire is passed through the skin and into area of concern. An incision is made in the skin, the wire is followed to the mass or calcifications and the tissue is removed. Most of the time, the specimen is X-rayed to be sure the correct spot was removed. Then the tissue is sent to the pathologist.

In cases where a breast mass is easy to feel, it can be surgically removed without localization. An incision is made and the mass is removed using special scissors or a similar device. The tissue is sent to the pathologist for results.

Excisional biopsy is very similar to lumpectomy / partial mastectomy. The difference is that in lumpectomy / partial mastectomy, the surgeon’s goal is to remove the lesion with a rim of surrounding normal tissue. In an excisional biopsy, the focus is to remove the lesion only.

 

Breast Health Institute Houston

If you are worried about your breasts and want them to be healthy or have additional questions regarding breast biopsy techniques, Dr. Miltenburg and the Breast Health Institute of Houston is the place for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?

can breast cancer be prevented

Breast cancer is a deadly disease that haunts far too many people; today 3 million women are living with breast cancer in the United States alone. Can breast cancer be prevented? There is no definite way of preventing breast cancer, but the American Cancer Association recommends being aware of potential risks that increase your chances of being diagnosed. Lowering your risk can be especially helpful for women who have a family history of breast cancer.

Preventable Risk Factors

Many factors that may make you more susceptible to breast cancer are related to parts of your daily life. By being aware of the potential risk, you can be proactive and monitor your intake on the following activities.

Being Overweight

Obesity increases your risk for a myriad of health problems, including breast cancer. This most notably increases the risk for women who become obese later in life and especially after menopause. The fat cells in post menopausal women produce all the estrogen and if you’re overweight, your body can overproduce estrogen and make you more susceptible to being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Over Consumption of Alcohol

Large amounts of alcohol increase your cancer risk so doctors recommend that if you are an excessive drinker to cut down on your habits. Drinking moderately and responsibly is generally fine as long as you stay aware of your body’s changes.

Having Children

Childbirth, especially a first child after the age of 30 can play a part in increasing your risk. Additionally, the American Cancer Society stated that having multiple children and being pregnant at an early age can in fact reduce your overall risk of breast cancer. However, the effects of pregnancy vary across different forms of breast cancer. Breast feeding for a year or more can also reduce your risk.

Birth Control

This applies to both oral contraceptives and the shot; few studies have looked into the correlation with birth control implants. Studies have also shown that after stopping the use of birth control, your risk goes back down as time passes. However, it is also important to consider the benefits of birth control such as the immediate benefits and the long-term effects of lowering the risk of ovarian, colon and uterine cancer.

Hormone Therapy After Menopause

This typically serves as a short term solution to the effects of menopause, but some studies have shown that the long term use of hormone therapy can actually increase your risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The risk is mostly on recent and current users; within five years the risk returns to the population standard.

Physical Exercise

This is one of few health boosters that help almost any health problem you may be battling. Women who participate in physical exercise for 30 minutes every day have a lower risk of breast cancer. A beneficial side product of this physical activity is the additional aid in weight loss.

Stay Vigilant

If you have a strong prevalence of cancer through your family history you can maintain extra awareness and be ready to test yourself sooner rather than later. Women may be at a higher risk if their mother or sister have had breast cancer. Dr. Miltenburg will help you understand your family history and whether or not you may be more susceptible than others to breast cancer.

Additionally, it is important to remember screening. Though it doesn’t directly prevent cancer, catching it early has proven to save lives by undergoing treatment early. Most women begin regular mammograms around the age of 40.

Unfortunately, preventing breast cancer isn’t always in your control. There are certain risk factors that are out of your control which is why it is critical to put yourself in the best care possible as early as possible. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Menopause over the age of 55
  • First childbirth after 35
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Being 5’8” or taller
  • History of benign breast disease or family history of cancer

For questions or concerns regarding breast cancer risk factors or preventing breast cancer, please do not hesitate to contact The Breast Health Institute of Houston. We are a private surgical practice committed specifically to patient care relating to breast health. Dr. Miltenburg and The Breast Institute staff are more than happy to help guide you through any health concerns you may have.