In the United States, approximately 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This year alone, an estimated 282,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed. You probably know someone who has had breast cancer or perhaps you have experienced the disease yourself.
As the number of breast cancer patients increases, however, so do the number of people who can beat it. In fact, more than 90 percent of women with breast cancer survive five years after diagnosis.
Women now have more options – and reasons for optimism – than ever before, due to increased awareness and knowledge of breast cancer, improvements in and accessibility of technology, more personalized approaches to treatment, earlier disease detection and better overall care.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Breast cancer is a form of cancer that develops when the cells of breast tissue begin to grow abnormally. These cells divide and grow faster than healthy breast cells do and accumulate as they grow, forming a mass or lump. It most often starts in a woman’s lobules, or the milk-producing ducts.
RISK FACTORS FOR BREAST CANCER
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. While it most often occurs in women, breast cancer can be found in men, as well.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing breast cancer. Some of them include:
There are also environmental, lifestyle and hormonal factors that can increase your risk of breast cancer. However, it’s not exactly clear why some who have higher risk never develop breast cancer and why some who have no risk at all do. Even if you have one or many of the risk factors, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily develop breast cancer. Researchers believe it’s a complex interaction of environment and genetic makeup.
AWARENESS AND PREVENTION
Breast cancer prevention starts with a self-exam. It’s essential to take the time to feel around your breasts to identify any unusual bumps or lumps forming on your chest. If you notice changes in your breast or any unusual symptoms, visit your doctor to get it checked out. At an annual check-up, you can talk through any changes in your body and undergo a physical exam to ensure there are no breast lumps or other bodily issues.
Screening is critically important. It’s recommended that women over age 50 get a mammogram at least every two years, as they have been shown to save lives and are one of the easiest ways to help ensure breast health. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that allows doctors to find breast tissue changes that look abnormal.
Most times, doctors can detect breast cancer this way before a lump can even be felt. If something abnormal is detected, it’s time to contact a breast cancer specialist to go over your treatment options and choose the best care for your unique situation. One of the biggest challenges for breast cancer prevention is access to care, though community health centers, free screenings, medical insurance changes and more are helping to improve that.
In recent years, there has been significant progress in breast cancer research and understanding, as well as changes and advances in treatment options. Health care providers can now learn more about the biology of each patient’s specific tumor, helping guide treatment to better target the type of cancer that is present. Not all breast cancer is the same; sometimes treatment is recommended to start with surgery, other times chemotherapy or endocrine therapy may be best.
It’s vital for people to be able to consider choices as a team, not only with their doctors but also their families, though the patient always remains the focus and ultimate decision-maker. The goal is for patients to be informed about all of their options and have the best recommendations both to treat the cancer that is present and reduce the chances of it coming back in the future.
BREAST CARE SPECIALISTS
Your body is unique, so you deserve a care plan for your breast health that is unique, as well. Breast cancer specialists work to do just that, really getting to know you to develop a treatment approach that is specific to you, compassionate and comprehensive.
They take a deep dive into your total health, starting with your personal medical history, mental state, coping methods and more, going far beyond just diagnosis, prognosis and physical care. The idea is to create a specialized treatment plan that will work best with your lifestyle and wellbeing, instead of treating you as another patient or number.
With a dedicated team of breast care specialists, you don’t just have one doctor on your side. You have a committed, expert group of surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and more, all in one place, fighting for you, exploring individual treatment options and making the best decisions about your health.
When it comes to breast care, cancer and treatment, which change constantly, you don’t want a jack-of-all-trades. You want a master of one. Specialists devote their full energy and attention to breast health, are always current on the newest technology and treatments and know all the best practices for patient care.
For many breast cancer patients, the appearance of their breasts and scarring from surgery can be a major concern. Oncoplastic surgery, which combines sound oncologic principles with plastic surgery techniques, is a solution some providers offer that can deliver improved cosmetic results without compromising outcome.
COMPREHENSIVE AND SKILLED BREAST HEALTH CARE
With locations throughout Northern California’s East Bay area, Epic Care is a community health center with a tight-knit group of expert doctors, including Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship-trained surgeons, as well as talented physicians and support staff that specialize in breast health. Each patient is treated with compassion, empathy and care, not rushed through the process, made to wait or given the same treatment as someone else. You are unique, and your individualized treatment plan should be too.
By specializing in and dedicating our practice to the treatment of breast diseases, Epic Care offers the most sophisticated and modern techniques for diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Our treatment center provides state-of-the-art surgical management of benign and malignant breast conditions, with an emphasis on optimal care while achieving the most aesthetically pleasing outcomes.
At Epic Care, we strive to provide our patients with continual breast health education, as well as to inform them of all of the procedures and reconstructions we offer. Together, we hope to make the most appropriate decision for your breast health or breast cancer treatment. Our experienced staff will ensure you receive the care you need and deserve. Contact Epic Care today to schedule an appointment and begin your journey to restored health.