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Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. According to the American Cancer Society, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.

Breast cancer often starts in the ducts or lobules and then spreads into the surrounding tissue. Noninvasive breast cancer is cancer that is found only in the ducts. Invasive breast cancer is cancer that has grown outside the ducts into surrounding tissue. Once outside the ducts, breast cancer can spread through lymph or blood to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Metastatic breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Even though it is rare, men can develop breast cancer. Although there are some differences between men and women, treatment is similar.

Course of Treatment

Common symptoms include:

  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt)
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
  • Skin dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel
  • Swollen lymph nodes (Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.)

Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to a health care professional so the cause can be found.

Breast exams are the check-ups, mammograms, and other types of screening methods that you may have to find breast cancer before symptoms develop. Having breast exams on a regular basis can help detect breast cancer at its earliest, most treatable stages.


Average Risk Screening Recommendations:

  • All women should consider performing a monthly self-breast exam beginning at age 20
  • Women between the ages of 25 and 40 should have an annual clinical breast examination.
  • Women 40 and older should have an annual mammogram
  • Ultrasound may be recommended for women with dense breast tissue.

Average Risk Screening Recommendations:

  • a clinical breast exam every six months starting no later than ten years before the age of the earliest diagnosis in the family (but not earlier than age 25 and not later than age 40)
  • an annual mammogram starting no later than ten years before the age of the earliest diagnosis in the family (but not earlier than age 25 and not later than age 40)
  • possible supplemental imaging such as an ultrasound for women with dense breast tissue
  • possibly alternating between a breast MRI and a mammogram every six months, as determined by your physician

When other tests show that you might have breast cancer, you will probably need to have a biopsy. Having a breast biopsy doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. A biopsy is the only test that can make a definite diagnosis of breast cancer.

The stage of your breast cancer is a principal factor in making decisions about your treatment. In most cases, a woman with DCIS can choose between Breast-Conserving Surgery (BCS) and a Mastectomy. If BCS is done, it is usually followed by radiation therapy. Woman having a mastectomy for DCIS typically don’t need radiation therapy. Most women with breast cancer in stages I, II, or III are treated with surgery, often followed by radiation therapy. Many women also get some kind of drug therapy. In general, the more the breast cancer has spread, the more treatment you will likely need. For Women with stage IV Breast cancer, systemic (Drug) therapies are the main treatments. These may include: Hormone Therapy, Chemotherapy, Targeted Drugs, Immunotherapy, or a combination of these. Surgery and/or radiation therapy may be useful in certain situations.

Metastatic brain tumors used to be treated with whole brain radiation therapy which was associated with significant side effects and deteriorating quality of life. Recently, however, the individual tumors are targeted with precise delivery of high-doses of radiation therapy to destroy the tumors. This technique is called Stereotactic RadioSurgery (SRS). Dr. Cavey has extensive experience with SRS for treatment of brain metastases and also recurrent gliomas, acoustic neuromas / vestibular schwannomas, pituitary tumors and meningiomas.

Texas Radiotherapy’s Radixact® System by Accuray provides a personalized, precise and non-invasive option for treating your breast cancer, typically post lumpectomy or mastectomy. The system is the world’s only helical radiotherapy platform, delivering highly accurate radiation dose from 360 degrees around the patient.

The Radixact System with the TomoHelical® technology is designed to:

  • help improve clinical outcomes
  • minimize the risk of side effects
  • protect your quality of life both during and after treatment.

Two treatment delivery modes (TomoHelical™ and TomoDirect™) offer unique advantages in the treatment of breast cancer, including the ability to deliver precise radiation dose to any tumor or tumor bed, during every treatment, while minimizing dose to nearby healthy organs and tissues. This is especially important for women diagnosed with cancer in the left breast, where the tumor may be close to critical organs such as the heart.