The following describes breast cancer. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
At Hurley, we believe every mother, daughter, wife, sister, aunt and grandmother should live a long, healthy life.
As the region’s leader in breast health and breast cancer treatment, we are making this belief a reality. If you have breast cancer, we are here for you every step of the way–from initial diagnosis through treatment all the way to recovery.
There is a lot of good news about breast cancer these days. Breast cancer survival rates have increased and the number of deaths have declined, thanks to a number of factors such as earlier detection, new treatments, and a better understanding of the disease. How each individual case turns out depends largely on how far the cancer has progressed and what kind of treatment is given.
What causes breast cancer?
The exact causes of breast cancer, as with most cancers, are unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that increase the possibility of being diagnosed with breastcancer, including age, gender and race, personal or family history of breast cancer, diet, weight, the level and frequency of exercise, use of alcohol, and exposure to estrogen. Other factors include the age at which a woman had her first period, whether or not she had children, whether or not she breast-fed a child, how old she was when she had children, and the age she was when she reached menopause. The National Cancer Institute offers an online risk assessment tool that can help you quickly and easily determine your risk level. To access this tool, click here.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
Since the symptoms of breast cancer vary across individuals and may appear similar to symptoms of other illnesses and disorders, you should always speak to your Hurley physician about any symptoms you are experiencing. Typical symptoms of breast cancer include the following:
- area of thickening in the breast that feels different from the surrounding tissue
- breast pain
- breast swelling
- changes in the size or shape of a breast
- enlarged underarm lymph node
- nipple changes, such as inversion, bloody discharge, or peeling or flaking of the nipple skin
- redness, dimpling, or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange
If you find a lump or other change in your breast—even if a recent mammogram was normal—make an appointment with your Hurley doctor. If you do not have a doctor, please call (888) 611-4462.
What are the different types of breast cancer?
The term ‘breast cancer’ describes a group of conditions that begin in the breast and can sometimes spread outside of the breast. Breast cancer that metastasizes, or spreads to other organs, is still breast cancer. There are two structures in the breast where cancer occurs most commonly, the lobes and the milk ducts. By far the most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which is cancer in the lining of the milk ducts. Lobular carcinoma is cancer of the lobules.
1. Noninvasive or in situ breast cancers stay in the ducts or lobules and do not spread to surrounding tissue. There are two main types of noninvasive cancer: ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).
2. Invasive breast cancer is a cancer that has spread outside the duct or lobule into the surrounding breast tissue, or to other areas of the body. Invasive cancers are more serious than non-invasive cancers but with treatment, can often have successful outcomes.
3. Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare but aggressive type of breast cancer. Its symptoms resemble an infection or allergic reaction and are often the same symptoms found in some benign (non-cancerous) breast diseases, which makes diagnosis difficult.
4. Paget’s disease, a rare cancer that starts in the milk ducts of the nipple, differs from IBC in that it grows slowly, but like IBC, the symptoms appear to be an infection or inflammation.
Women at high-risk for breast cancer
In many cases, a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer can be determined by genetic testing or other documented risk factors. A woman suspected to be at high risk can then receive closer follow-up and screening (more frequent mammogram or breast MRIs) or drug therapy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer. Hurley has access to a Michigan State University genetic counselor who meets with patients who have been referred by their physician (usually their oncology surgeon or medical oncologist).
Breast Health Nurse Navigator Program
Hurley also provides a Breast Health Nurse Navigator Program, the first program of its kind in Genesee County. This extremely caring, highly-trained registered nurse provides breast cancer patients with the latest information and research, and connects them with resources for nutrition, lifestyle, emotional, and spiritual support, demonstrating Hurley’s commitment to providing patient- and family-centered care at a very stressful time in these patients’ lives. Click here for more information about the Breast Health Nurse Navigator program at Hurley Medical Center.