Conditions We Treat: Breast Cancer

Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer starts developing in the tissues of the breast, affecting the ducts or lobules. The early disease often does not cause symptoms, which is why regular breast exams and mammograms are important. Annual mammograms are recommended for women 40 and older and for younger women with specific breast cancer risk factors.

Your risk of developing breast cancer is higher if a family member had the disease, yet 85% of women with breast cancer don’t have a family history. That’s why it’s important to know the symptoms and get treatment from Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, where the team has years of experience treating breast cancer. They specialize in advanced options that target your type of cancer and offer support for your overall physical and emotional health as you fight this disease.

Breast Cancer FAQs

What causes breast cancer?

Breast cancer begins when changes in cellular DNA makes cells grow abnormally, rapidly developing into a tumor. These DNA changes may develop during your lifetime, or you may inherit a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which significantly increases your risk of developing breast cancer.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or peritoneal cancer, you may want to talk with your doctor about genetic screening to determine if you inherited the mutated genes.

What are the most common types of breast cancer?

Some types of breast cancer stay in your breast, while others become invasive and spread into the surrounding tissues and organs throughout your body. Though there are several types of breast cancer, the two most common are:

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
Most breast cancers are DCIS, a cancer that begins in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple. DCIS may stay in your breast or become invasive and spread.

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma
This type of breast cancer begins as a benign tumor in the milk-producing glands that turns into invasive cancer.

What symptoms develop with breast cancer?

A lump in the breast often signals breast cancer. Though a lump is common, it’s not the only symptom, and sometimes it’s not the first sign of cancer.

You may also experience:

  • Breast itchiness
  • Redness or slight swelling
  • Skin puckering or dimpling
  • Nipple discharge from one breast
  • Nipple changes such as a newly inverted nipple
  • Changes in the size or shape of a breast
  • Peeling, crusting, or flaking skin anywhere on the breast

If you notice any changes in your breasts, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist for a full evaluation.

How is breast cancer treated?

The team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology works closely with specialized breast surgeons, providing radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other advanced treatments to eliminate your cancer and prevent a recurrence. Digital mammography, biopsies, and ultrasound are also available for the detection of breast lumps.

The treatment you receive depends on the type and stage of your tumor, its hormone receptor status, and your overall health.

Breast cancer treatment begins with surgery to remove the tumor, such as a lumpectomy or mastectomy with sentinel lymph node dissection. You may also choose to have breast reconstruction immediately after your cancer surgery.

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology offers the following breast cancer treatment options:

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy kills any cancer cells that remain after a lumpectomy (breast-conserving surgery) or a mastectomy. Your doctor may focus the radiation treatment on the chest wall, mastectomy scar, the entire breast, the tumor bed, or your underarm if cancer spreads to the lymph nodes.

If you need chemotherapy, you may receive a series of treatments before and/or after surgery. Chemo can also be used for your primary treatment if your cancer has metastasized. You may need oral oncology treatment or intravenous infusions, depending on the type of medication.

Hormonal Therapy
Breast cancers that depend on estrogen or progesterone to grow often respond to hormonal therapy that blocks the hormone the tumor needs.

Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy consists of advanced medications that stop breast cancer growth by targeting proteins found in the tumor cells.

Some types of breast cancer cells can hide from your immune system by affecting proteins that block an immune attack. The medications immunotherapy uses target that problem, restoring your immune system’s ability to fight breast cancer.

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology also participates in clinical trials, which may be available for breast cancer.

What supportive therapies might I receive for breast cancer?

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology provides support for all aspects of your health while you receive breast cancer treatment. The team starts by offering essential services in the same location, like lab work onsite and a pharmacy.

They anticipate and manage the side effects of your treatment and alleviate your symptoms. You also get ongoing support for your overall health with services such as:

  • Dietary consultation
  • Psychosocial counseling and rehabilitative services
  • Clinical trials and research
  • Breast cancer support groups
  • Lymphedema program

Of special importance for women receiving chemotherapy, Hunterdon Hematology Oncology offers scalp-cooling treatments that help prevent hair loss.

You may also choose to receive a family risk assessment, which can help identify other women in your family who are at risk for breast cancer.

If you need exceptional care for breast cancer, call Hunterdon Hematology Oncology today or book an appointment online.

About HHO

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is a community oncology group, dedicated to fighting cancer in this community and across the region. Our Doctors, Physician’s Assistants and Nurses work tirelessly. They fight hard so that you can win.


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