Breast cancer affects millions of women each year. When a diagnosis is made, it is essential for a patient to make a knowledgeable decision about her treatment. Dr. Dennis Citrin is an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. Sitting with him and discussing the newest evolution in breast cancer treatment and the important things that all women should know about the condition will go far in the prevention process. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, patients receive individual care with the latest technologies so that even advanced cancers are not death sentences.
What is the biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer?
The biggest risk is being a female.
What women are most likely to receive this diagnosis?
Over a lifetime, one-in-eight women will become affected with breast cancer. It does not discriminate. It can strike a women of any shape, size, and background. However, people with a history of breast cancer in their families, people who drink alcohol, and women who use hormone replacement are at the highest risks.
How can a woman catch symptoms early?
Women should check their breasts often so that they become familiar with how they feel. Although it is common for tissue to change throughout the month, women will get ideas of what is normal. When a woman detects something strange, it is wise to visit a doctor who works closely with breast issues.
What is your advice to women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don’t panic. When breast cancer is diagnosed in the early stages, it is very likely that it can be cured. Today’s approach to treatment is quite advanced. In the past, a woman received a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Now, we can perform a core biopsy, which shows the stage of the disease, the type of cancer, and where it is located. Consulting with a medical oncologist who focuses on breast cancer is the best course of action.
Besides surgery, what are other current treatments that are useful?
With local treatment, we address the biggest tumor and examine the lymph nodes in the surrounding areas. Systemic treatment is necessary as well. This may include medication that blocks hormones or chemotherapy. It is vital to realize that each woman receives individualized treatment.
Mastectomies and chemotherapy are scary topics. Are there any new developments that should make these treatments less daunting?
Certainly. Surgery, radiation, and medicine have definitely advanced. Even though it is quite complicated, it is important to note that most early stage breast cancer patients do not require mastectomies. Conventional wisdom said that women had better chances of being cured when their breasts were removed, but this is not accurate.
To wrap things up, what is the best advice that you can give to women about breast cancer?
When a woman feels something that is not right, she should remain calm and seek treatment right away. It is smart to consult with a surgeon and oncologist. After a solid plan of action is developed, she should follow it carefully.
More information on CTCA can be found on WebMD.com