We're here through every step of your breast cancer journey.
Among women in America, breast cancer trails only skin cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer. Advances in early detection, however, have raised the five-year survival rate for women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancers to almost 100%. Currently, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. At Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, we have partnered with our Breast Care to provide exceptional screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up for patients with breast cancer in Greater Houston.
Like most cancers, breast cancer begins as an uncontrolled growth of normal cells in the tissues of the breast. The vast majority of breast cancers are carcinomas – a type of cancer that forms in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. In the case of breast cancer, this formation is found in mammary glands. When a tumor grows large enough, it can be spotted on an X-ray or felt as a lump during a screening examination.
The good news is that most lumps found in the breast are non-cancerous (benign). However, the presence of some non-cancerous tumors can indicate a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Cancerous (malignant) tumors, on the other hand can grow into surrounding tissues and potentially metastasize (or spread) to other parts of the body.
Many breast cancer tumors are ductal carcinomas, which start in the ducts that move milk from the breast to the nipple. Lobular carcinoma starts in the glands of the breast that produce milk. In rare cases, breast cancer occurs in other areas of the breast.
Many breast cancers have estrogen receptors on the surface of their cells, and as a result are sensitive to the hormone estrogen. They are called estrogen receptor-positive cancer or ER-positive cancer.
Other breast cancer cells have progesterone receptors on the surface of the cell making them sensitive to progesterone. These tumors are called PR-positive cancers
Some women have HER2-positive breast cancer. HER2 is a gene that helps cells grow, divide and repair themselves. When cancer cells have too many copies of this gene, they grow faster.
Tumor cells can be any combination of ER/PR and HER2 positive or ER/PR and HER2 negative with excess of receptors on the cells surface.
Sometimes there are no symptoms of breast cancer in its early stages. However, talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual.
When the breast cancer is discovered early, you have more treatment options and a better chance for a cure. Screening is essential in finding breast cancer in this treatable stage, before symptoms are felt.
The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening tests for women at average risk for breast cancer. Women with a higher risk should talk with their doctor about when to begin screening, and which tests they should use.
Breast cancer screenings include:
In addition to a diagnostic mammogram, other diagnostic procedures help characterize breast abnormalities to either identify, or rule out, breast cancer. Click on each procedure to get more details.
Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers develop a personalized treatment plan to best meet the needs of each individual with breast cancer. Based on your diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be recommended separately or concurrently as part of your treatment.
Chemotherapy may be used to treat specific cancers, control tumor growth, relieve symptoms such as pain, shrink tumors before surgery or radiation therapy, or destroy microscopic metastases.
3-D treatment planning leverages CT technology to provide the most accurate, highly conformal treatment planning for patients undergoing radiation therapy. The accuracy of the system ensures that radiation is targeted with the highest level of precision, ensuring delivery directly to the tumor and reducing exposure to normal tissue.
The treatment plan for breast cancer may involve surgery.
After diagnostic testing has determined the location and size of the tumor and stage of cancer, it will be determined if surgery is a good option for treatment. Memorial Hermann offers a full range of surgical treatment options for breast cancer.
A specially trained team of oncologists and cancer nurses employ the latest technology and techniques. We provide individualized information to help you make the most informed decisions about your breast cancer treatment.
A subspecialty of internal medicine, medical oncology focuses on the diagnosis and medical treatment of solid malignant tumors and malignant hematologic disorders. Medical oncologists establish and evaluate the breast cancer diagnosis, determine the cancer’s stage and collaborate with surgeons, pathologists, radiation oncologists and other medical specialists to plan the optimal course of cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy is another option to help patients fight cancer. Our advanced technologies include:
Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers are accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC). This rare distinction is given to cancer programs that uphold the highest standard of care for patients. When you choose Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers for your cancer treatment, you can rest assured you will receive the best possible care delivered by a compassionate team of caregivers in a calm, healing environment.
For more information about Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, including how to get connected to our support services or an affiliated provider, please call (833) 770-7771 or fill out the form below to be connected to one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators.