Archive for May 21st, 2010

Step by step procedure for Breast Cancer Surgery.

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Touch LOOK Feel

An Inspiration to us all. Run for Life. Cancer will NEVER steal our soul, or break our spirit. We will fight you until our last breath.

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Grouping breast cancers

Doctors have developed ways of grouping breast cancers into different types. They sometimes call rarer breast cancers ‘special type’ and the more common breast cancers ‘no special type’. The most common type of breast cancer is invasive ductal carcinoma and this is often described as being of ‘no special type’. You may see this written as NST or NOS (not otherwise specified).

‘Special type’ breast cancers have cells with particular features. As well as the rare cancers listed here, lobular breast cancer is also classed as a ‘special type’.

Medullary breast cancerAbout 5 out of 100 breast cancers (5%) are medullary breast cancers. The cancer cells tend to be bigger than other breast cancer cells. And when doctors look at these cancers under a microscope they can see a clear boundary between the tumour and the normal tissue. This type of breast tumour is also unusual because it contains white cells.

Doctors treat medullary breast cancer in the same way as other types of invasive breast cancer. Women with medullary breast cancer generally have a better outcome than women with other types of invasive breast cancer.

Mucinous (mucoid or colloid) breast cancerAbout 2 in 100 breast cancers (2%) are mucinous breast cancers. This type of cancer tends to be slower growing than other types of breast cancers and is less likely to spread to the lymph nodes.

Doctors usually treat mucinous cancers in the same way as other types of breast cancer – with surgery. If the tumour is smaller than 1 cm, you may not need your lymph nodes removed. The outlook for mucinous breast cancer is generally very good. Further treatment is often not needed after the surgery.

Tubular breast cancerTubular cancer of the breast is called ‘tubular’ because the cells have a tubular shape when looked at under a microscope. Only about 1 in 100 breast cancers (1%) are tubular cancers.

Treatment is the same as for other types of invasive breast cancer. But you may not need to have your lymph nodes removed. This type of breast cancer is also less likely than other types to come back after treatment. So, the outlook is generally good.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the breastFewer than 1 in 100 breast cancers (1%) are adenoid cystic carcinomas. It is also sometimes called a ‘cribriform’ cancer. This type of tumour tends to be slow growing.

Doctors usually recommend surgery to treat adenoid cystic breast cancers. Most women don’t need to have a mastectomy. Instead, your doctor will just remove the lump (a lumpectomy). Adenoid cystic carcinoma of the breast rarely spreads elsewhere in the body. So you don’t usually need to have your lymph nodes removed. And the risk of this type of tumour coming back is low, so the outlook is good.

Papillary breast cancerIn papillary carcinoma, the breast cancer cells are in a pattern that looks a bit like the shape of a fern. Papillary tumours tend to affect older women. They can also be non cancerous (benign).

Doctors usually treat papillary breast cancer with surgery. These cancers are usually slow growing, and don’t usually affect the lymph glands.

Metaplastic breast cancerThis type of breast cancer is a mixture of two cell types. The cells have started out as one cell type, such as an adenocarcinoma, but some of them have changed into another type of breast cell.

Doctors treat metaplastic cell cancers in the same way as other breast cancers. You may have surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But metaplastic breast tumours tend not to be sensitive to hormone therapy.

Angiosarcoma of the breastAngiosarcoma is a type of breast sarcoma. A sarcoma is a cancer that develops from the structural, supporting tissues of the body, such as connective tissue, bone, blood vessel or nerve tissue. Less than 1 in 100 breast cancers (1%) are sarcomas. Angiosarcoma (pronounced ann-gee-oh-sar-co-ma) is also sometimes called haemangiosarcoma (hee-man-gee-oh-sar-co-ma). It starts in the cells that line the blood or lymphatic vessels. These cancers are more common in women in their 30s and 40s who have not yet had their menopause. The lump is usually at least 4 cm in size, and the skin over it may turn a bluish colour. The causes are not known but one possible cause in older women is chronic lymphoedema following a mastectomy and previous radiotherapy to the area.

Doctors usually treat these tumours with surgery and chemotherapy. There is more information about breast angiosarcoma in the breast cancer questions section.

Phyllodes or cytosarcoma phyllodesPhyllodes (pronounced fi-loi-d-ees) is a type of breast sarcoma that can be either cancerous (malignant) or non cancerous (benign). If cancerous, they may spread into the lymph nodes, but this is rare. Doctors usually treat them with surgery, and sometimes radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is rarely used.

Lymphoma of the breastLymphomas of the breast contain both lymphoid tissue and breast tissue. If your doctor diagnoses lymphoma of the breast, they will arrange further tests for you. These are to check for lymphoma elsewhere in your body. . The treatment for lymphoma of the breast is usually surgery to remove the lump, then chemotherapy possibly followed by radiotherapy.

Basal type breast cancerBasal type breast cancer was first identified in 2003. The breast cancer cells have particular genetic changes. The p53 gene is damaged (mutated) or lost. The cells make large amounts of a protein called cytokeratin 5/6. Basal type breast cancers are often triple negative – meaning that they don’t have many receptors for oestrogen, progesterone, or Her2. So, hormonal therapies and Herceptin don’t work for most basal type cancer cells. Other treatments are used instead.

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Male Breast Cancer

As a man who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you have special concerns that don’t affect most women. Because the majority of men aren’t aware that it is possible for them to get breast cancer, receiving a diagnosis can be difficult.

Once diagnosed, men with breast cancer may feel conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you’ve been told you have cancer–a life threatening disease. Yet many men do not feel that they can discuss with others that they have breast cancer, due to embarrassment or other reasons. As a result, many men with breast cancer feel very alone.

To further complicate matters, there is not a great deal of information about male breast cancer available, so decision making and self-education can be difficult. More than 1,500 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

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Detailed Guide: Breast Cancer in Men
How Is Breast Cancer in Men Diagnosed?

Signs and symptoms

Men need to know that breast cancer is not limited to only women. Possible signs of breast cancer to watch for include:

A lump or swelling, which is usually (but not always) painless
Skin dimpling or puckering
Nipple retraction (turning inward)
Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
Discharge from the nipple
These changes aren’t always caused by cancer. For example, most breast lumps in men are due to gynecomastia (a harmless enlargement of breast tissue). Still, if you notice any breast changes, you should see your health care professional as soon as possible.

Medical history and physical exam

If there is a chance you may have breast cancer, your doctor will want to get a complete personal and family medical history. This may give some clues about the cause of any symptoms you are having and if you might be at increased risk for breast cancer.

A thorough clinical breast exam will be done to locate any lumps or suspicious areas and to feel their texture, size, and relationship to the skin and muscle tissue. The doctor may also examine the rest of your body to look for any evidence of possible spread, such as enlarged lymph nodes (especially under the arm) or an enlarged liver. Your general physical condition may also be evaluated.

Tests used to evaluate breast disease

If the history and physical exam suggest breast cancer may be possible, several types of tests may be done.

Diagnostic mammography

A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast that is done when problems are present. In some cases, special images known as cone views with magnification are used to make a small area of abnormal breast tissue easier to evaluate. The results of this test may suggest that a biopsy is needed to tell whether the abnormal area is cancer. Mammography is often more accurate in men than women, since men do not have dense breasts or other common breast changes that might interfere with the test.

Breast ultrasound

Ultrasound, also known as sonography, uses high-frequency sound waves to outline a part of the body. For this test, a small, microphone-like instrument called a transducer is placed on the skin (which is often first lubricated with gel). It emits sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off body tissues. The echoes are converted by a computer into a black and white image on a computer screen. This test is painless and does not expose you to radiation.

Breast ultrasound is sometimes used to evaluate breast abnormalities that are found during mammography or a physical exam. It can be useful to see if a breast lump or mass is a cyst or a tumor. A cyst is a non-cancerous, fluid-filled sac that can feel the same as a tumor on physical exam. A mass that is not a cyst will often need to be biopsied.

Nipple discharge exam

Fluid leaking from the nipple is called nipple discharge. If you have a nipple discharge, you should have it checked by your doctor. If there is blood in this fluid, you might need more tests. One test collects some of the fluid to look at under a microscope to see if any cancer cells are present. This test is often not helpful, since a breast cancer can still be present even when no cancer cells are found in a nipple discharge. Other tests may be more helpful, such as a mammogram or breast ultrasound. If you have a breast mass, a biopsy will likely be needed (even if the nipple discharge does not contain cancer cells or blood).


A biopsy removes a body tissue sample to be looked at under a microscope. A biopsy is the only way to tell if a breast abnormality is cancerous. Unless the doctor is sure the lump is not cancer, this should always be done. There are several types of biopsies. Your doctor will choose the type of biopsy based on your individual situation.

Fine needle aspiration biopsy: Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is the easiest and quickest biopsy technique. The doctor uses a very thin, hollow needle attached to a syringe to withdraw (aspirate) a small amount of tissue from a suspicious area. The doctor can guide the needle into the area of the breast abnormality while feeling the lump. A local anesthetic (numbing medicine) may or may not be used. Because such a thin needle is used for the biopsy, the process of getting the anesthetic may actually be more uncomfortable than the biopsy itself.

When the samples of most breast abnormalities are looked at under a microscope, they show if they are benign or cancerous. Sometimes,though, the results of the FNA are not clear, and another type of biopsy is needed.

Core needle biopsy: For a core biopsy, the doctor removes a small cylinder of tissue from a breast abnormality to be looked at under a microscope. The needle used in this technique is larger than that used for FNA. The biopsy is done with local anesthesia in the doctor’s office.

A core biopsy uses a larger needle to sample breast changes felt by the doctor or pinpointed by ultrasound or a mammogram. (When mammograms taken from different angles are used to pinpoint the biopsy site, this is known as a stereotactic core needle biopsy.) In some centers, the biopsy can be guided by an MRI scan.

Because it removes larger pieces of tissue, a core needle biopsy is more likely than an FNA to provide a clear diagnosis, although it may still miss some cancers.

Surgical (open) biopsy: Sometimes, surgery is needed to remove all or part of the lump for microscopic examination. Usually this is an excisional biopsy, where the surgeon removes the entire mass or abnormal area, as well as a surrounding margin of normal-appearing breast tissue. If the mass is very large, an incisional biopsy, where only part of the mass is removed, may be done instead. In rare cases, this type of biopsy can be done in the doctor’s office, but it is more commonly done in the hospital’s outpatient department under a local anesthesia (you are awake, but the area around the breast is numb). You may also be given medicine to make you drowsy.

This type of biopsy is more complicated than an FNA biopsy or a core needle biopsy, but it is more likely to give an accurate diagnosis and, in some cases, may be the only surgery that is needed if the cancer is not invasive. It typically needs several stitches and may leave a scar.

Lymph node dissection and sentinel lymph node biopsy: These procedures are done specifically to look for cancer in the lymph nodes. They are described in more detail in the section, “How is breast cancer treated?”

Lab tests of breast cancer biopsy samples

Once breast tissue samples have been obtained from a biopsy, they are looked at in the lab to determine whether breast cancer is present and if so, what type it is. Other lab tests can help determine how quickly a cancer is likely to grow and (to some extent) what treatments are likely to be effective.

If a benign condition is diagnosed, no further treatment is needed. If the diagnosis is cancer, there should be time for you to learn about the disease and to discuss treatment options with your cancer care team, friends, and family. It is usually not necessary to rush into treatment. You may want to get a second opinion before deciding on what treatment is best for you.

The tissue removed during the biopsy (or during surgery) is first looked at under a microscope to see if cancer is present. The biopsy is also used to determine the cancer’s type. Most breast cancers in men are invasive ductal carcinomas.


A pathologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease in tissue samples) also assigns a histologic grade to the cancer, which is based on how closely the cancer in the biopsy sample looks like normal breast tissue. The grade helps predict the patient’s prognosis (outlook). In general, a lower grade number indicates a slower-growing cancer that is less likely to spread, while a higher number indicates a faster-growing cancer that is more likely to spread.

The grade is based on the arrangement of the cells in relation to each other, as well as features of individual cells.

Grade 1 (well differentiated) cancers have relatively normal-looking cells that do not appear to be growing rapidly and are arranged in small tubules.
Grade 2 (moderately differentiated) cancers have features between grades 1 and 3.
Grade 3 (poorly differentiated) cancers are formed by cells that appear very abnormal, grow rapidly, and rarely form tubules.
This system of grading is used for invasive cancers but not for in situ cancers.

Estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status

Receptors are cell proteins that can attach to certain substances, such as hormones, that circulate in the blood. Normal breast cells and some breast cancer cells have receptors that attach to estrogen and progesterone. These 2 hormones often fuel the growth of breast cancer cells.

An important step in evaluating a breast cancer is to test a portion of the cancer removed during the biopsy (or surgery) for the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors. Cancer cells may contain neither, one, or both of these receptors. Breast cancers that contain estrogen receptors are often referred to as ER-positive cancers, while those containing progesterone receptors are called PR-positive cancers.

About 9 out of 10 male breast cancers are ER-positive, PR-positive, or are positive for both types of receptor. These cancers tend to have a better prognosis than cancers without these receptors and are much more likely to respond to hormonal therapy (see the section, “How is breast cancer in men treated?”).

HER2/neu status

In a small number of breast cancers in men, the cells have too much of a growth-promoting protein called HER2/neu (often just shortened to HER2). The HER2/neu gene instructs cells to make this protein. Tumors with increased levels of HER2/neu are referred to as HER2-positive.

HER2-positive breast cancers have too many copies of the HER2/neu gene (known as gene amplification). This results in greater than normal amounts of the HER2/neu protein on the cancer cells. These cancers tend to grow and spread more aggressively than other breast cancers.

All newly diagnosed breast cancers should be tested for HER2/neu because HER2-positive cancers are much more likely to benefit from treatment with drugs that target the HER2/neu protein, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin®) and lapatinib (Tykerb®). See the section, “How is breast cancer in men treated?” for more information on these drugs.

Testing of the biopsy or surgery sample is usually done in 1 of 2 ways:

Immunohistochemistry (IHC): In this test, special antibodies that identify the HER2/neu protein are applied to the sample, which cause it to change color if abnormally high levels are present. The test results are reported as 0, 1+, 2+, or 3+.
Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH): This test uses fluorescent pieces of DNA that specifically stick to copies of the HER2/neu gene in cells, which can then be counted under a special microscope.
Many breast cancer specialists think the FISH test gives more accurate results than IHC, but it is more expensive and takes longer to get the results. Often the IHC test is used first. If the results are 1+ (or 0), the cancer is considered HER2-negative. People with HER2-negative tumors are not treated with drugs that target HER2 (like trastuzumab). If the test comes back 3+, the cancer is HER2-positive. Patients with HER2-positive tumors may be treated with drugs like trastuzumab. When the result is 2+, the HER2 status of the tumor is not clear. This often leads to having the tumor tested with FISH. Newer test methods are now becoming available as well (see the section, “What’s new in breast cancer research and treatment?”).

Tests of ploidy and cell proliferation rate

The ploidy of cancer cells refers to the amount of DNA they contain. If there’s a normal amount of DNA in the cells, they are said to be diploid. If the amount is abnormal, then the cells are described as aneuploid. Although these tests may help determine prognosis, they rarely change the course of treatment and are considered optional. They are not usually recommended as part of a routine breast cancer work-up. Different methods can be used to measure ploidy:

Flow cytometry uses lasers and computers to measure the amount of DNA in cancer cells suspended in liquid as they flow past the laser beam.
Image cytometry uses computers to analyze digital images of the cells from a microscope slide.
Flow cytometry can also measure the S-phase fraction, which is the percentage of cells in a sample that are replicating (copying) their DNA. DNA replication means that the cell is getting ready to divide into 2 new cells. The rate of cancer cell division can also be estimated by a Ki-67 test, which identifies cells in the S-phase, as well as cells getting ready to replicate DNA, cells that have just completed DNA replication, and cells in the process of dividing. A high S-phase fraction or Ki-67 labeling index means that the cancer cells are dividing more rapidly, which indicates a more aggressive cancer.

Tests of gene patterns

Researchers have found that looking at the patterns of a number of specific genes at the same time (sometimes referred to as gene expression profiling) can help predict whether or not an early stage breast cancer is likely to come back after initial treatment. This can help when deciding whether additional (adjuvant) treatment such as chemotherapy might be helpful after surgery. Two such tests (Oncotype DX® and MammaPrint®), which look at different sets of genes, are now available.

Although some doctors are using these tests (along with other information) to help make decisions about offering chemotherapy, others are waiting for more research to prove they are helpful. Large clinical trials of these tests are now under way. These tests have been studied mainly in breast cancers in women, and it’s not yet clear if they would be as useful in breast cancers in men. Still, men may want to discuss whether or not these tests might be appropriate with their doctors.

Last Medical Review: 01/14/2010
Last Revised: 01/14/2010

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Maria thank you, an excellent point and yes men also can get breast cancer.

It is rare, but it does happen and will be just as devastating. So to all you adoreable guys out there, make sure when you are in the shower and checking your ‘bits and pieces’ you also check for any lumps in the breast area. Keep safe because we love you.

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Some women are unaware there are different types of breast cancer. We think a yearly check -up and a mammogram ,looking for lumps, will keep us safe.

But no ,there is another type of cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer and it is a killer.

Symptons may look like a rash or an insect bite. If you have either go to your doctor and have it checked. Don’t wait.

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Cancer victim Jane Tomlinson was denied a new drug which could have extended her life because her NHS trust would not pay the £6,700 cost, her widower said.

The charity fundraiser was angry at suffering from a “postcode lottery” but refused to go public even though she was close to death, said Mike Tomlinson.
The mother of three had raised £1.75million, including “hundreds of thousands” for facilities run by the trust which refused to help her.
She preferred to “die early” rather than use her celebrity to get special treatment, said Mr Tomlinson.
“Jane has been fundamentally let down by an unjust system,” he said in an emotional press conference held on his late wife’s instructions.
“This is the National Health Service – potential life expectancy should not depend on where the person resides.”
Mrs Tomlinson did get the drug lapatinib from another hospital but her condition had seriously deteriorated during the three-month delay.
She died last month of breast cancer, aged 43, but her family believes she could still be alive if it had been given to her promptly.
Her condition had improved dramatically when she started taking lapatinib – only available for patients with advanced breast cancer – with a second drug in April.
For a while, the disease was “under control” but she deteriorated again after 12 weeks of a research trial and died in early September.
Her widower received a personal apology from Dr Phil Ayres, deputy medical director of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. He admitted more could have been done to find the money.
Mr Tomlinson said his wife was ‘very unwell’ after her final gruelling charity event in the US last year.
She had chemotherapy in her home city of Leeds but in January her oncologist said she needed lapatinib.
Taken in pill form, it can hold tumours at bay but is not yet licensed by the NHS.
It was available from GlaxoSmithKline as part of the trial. The drug was free but “additional costs” were £6,700 per patient.
The manufacturer also refused to supply Mrs Tomlinson on a “compassionate” individual basis. Eventually the City Hospital in Nottingham agreed to treat her.
“It caused a lot of distress,” said Mr Tomlinson.
“The delay seriously affected her health. It is felt by the family this shortened her life.”
He said the couple wanted to highlight the problems caused by a postcode lottery for patients.
He urged Gordon Brown – who paid tribute to Mrs Tomlinson when she died – to introduce a “consistent” policy in which all patients suitable for unlicensed trial drugs had access to the same treatment.
Such drugs should be available in an approved trial if licensed by another nation, said Mr Tomlinson.
“Jane wanted the issue to be drawn to the wider attention of the public,” he said.
“She was extremely cross there were inconsistencies.”
Lapatinib was approved in the US in March. A trial of 324 women given it with the drug Xeloda showed it delayed advanced breast cancer by eight months compared to four months for Xeloda alone.

Jane died Monday 3rd September 2007, she was just 43 years of age. Her last days spent in St.Gemmas Hospice in Leeds.

She left behind husband Mike and three children, Suzanne,Rebecca and Steven.

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Think Positive

If you are visiting this site because you, or someone close to you, has cancer I have only two pieces of advice. Firstly get as well informed as you can. Secondly, live a life of positive energy, even when things just seem to get worse.

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