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Breast cancer forms in the tissues of the breasts. The most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which forms in the milk ducts. Women get breast cancer far more than men, but men can develop it as well.
Breast Cancer Care at UVM Medical Center
There is no guaranteed way to prevent breast cancer, but women should perform a monthly breast self-exam. Women older than age 40 should have an annual mammogram. Our program was one of the first in the country to develop a coordinated team approach to breast cancer treatment. This approach yields better treatment outcomes. Your care will be led by knowledgeable and supportive patient navigators, guiding you through every aspect of your care from initial visits to post-operative care and follow-up.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Breast cancer screening may include:
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy - a technique pioneered here at The UVM Cancer Center - A sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node to which cancer cells are likely to spread. Cancer cells may appear in the sentinel node before spreading to other lymph nodes. A sentinel lymph node biopsy can be used to help determine the extent or stage of cancer.
- Breast exam - Your doctor checks for lumps or other abnormalities
- Mammogram - A breast X-ray
- Breast ultrasound - Sound waves help make a picture of the inside of the breast
- Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - An injection of dye is combined with a magnet and radio waves to create a picture of the inside of the breast
Breast Cancer Treatments
Immediately following your diagnosis, you will meet and receive feedback from all members of your breast cancer treatment team. This team typically includes the following specialists:
Additionally, nurses and support staff provide an extra measure of knowledge, training, and compassion; dedicated plastic surgeons help restore physical appearance following surgery; and psychologists and registered dietitians work closely with patients and their families along the way to help them cope with the diagnosis, treatment, and after-care.
Breast Cancer Treatment Options at The UVM Cancer Center
The Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic includes a skilled team of cancer surgeons - some devote their entire practice to breast cancer surgery. If a biopsy is needed, specialists perform core or fine-needle biopsies - increasingly seen as the technique of choice. An important focus for breast cancer surgeons is to conserve as much of the breast as possible.
Mastectomy versus Breast-Conserving Surgery
Many breast cancer patients who would traditionally require a mastectomy due to tumor size, position, or distribution may be offered breast conservation using a new technique.
The University of Vermont Cancer Center offers oncoplastic breast surgery. In this type of procedure, a surgical oncologist and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon perform the breast-conserving surgery together, removing the tumor and reshaping the breast to preserve as much of the natural appearance as possible.
Oncoplastic Surgery: Breast-Conserving Surgery Benefits
The oncoplasty procedure:
- Helps more women avoid a full mastectomy, letting them keep their breast and have a shorter recovery period
- Looks better after a breast lumpectomy procedure
- May enhance the effectiveness of follow-up radiation treatment when larger-breasted women who are appropriate candidates get a breast reduction at the same time
Patients seen in The UVM Cancer Center's Multidisciplinary Breast Care Center will be evaluated for oncoplastic surgical procedures during the management of their breast cancer. Candidates for this type of surgery will have the opportunity to meet with both the surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon prior to surgery to discuss the approach to their care.
Breast Cancer Specialized Programs
- Familial Cancer - For women who have a family history of breast cancer, we provide risk assessments, genetic testing and counseling, and personalized cancer screening.
- High-Risk Program - The High-Risk Breast program offers education, evaluation, and clinical trials for women who are at increased risk for breast cancer.
- Lymphedema Treatment - For women who suffer from lymphedema - a swelling of the arm or breast that can result from breast cancer surgery - the Lymphedema Clinic offers evaluation, specialized bra fittings, and general physical rehabilitation medicine.
- Long-term Surveillance - The Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic provides long-term surveillance of cancer patients through the dedicated team of nurse practitioners. Regular clinical evaluations coordinated with breast imaging can be instrumental in identifying early changes or concerns.