Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines
The path through breast cancer detection and breast cancer treatment involves four main phases:
- Tumor removal
- Breast reconstruction (if needed)
Your medical team, consisting of your general surgeon, oncologist, breast reconstructive surgeon and nursing staff will guide you through this process and help you with the decisions you will need to make. Their goal is to deliver the best breast cancer treatment available to patients from the Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Glendale, Los Angeles, and Malibu, CA areas.
Bedford Breast Center is a world-class facility dedicated to screening, early detection and surgeons who consider the importance of aesthetics as well as curing disease.
Breast Cancer Patient Education Act
A big win for the breast cancer community happened on December 18, 2015 when President Obama signed into law the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act. This is a huge step forward in making sure that all women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis fully understand their breast cancer treatment and breast reconstruction options.
At Bedford Breast Center, we’ve been doing this for our patients all along. We’re grateful that all women will now be fully educated in post mastectomy options so they can make an informed, confident decision about their breast cancer treatment.
To learn more about the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, please visit congress.gov.
Breast Cancer Detection
About 50% of breast cancer is detected either by a breast self-examination or during a clinical breast examination. The other 50% is detected during a screening mammogram, breast ultrasound or an MRI.
Once you have had your cancer identified, the next step is to find out if the cancer is in the lymph nodes. An MRI will likely be ordered to determine if the lymph nodes are involved or not.
Understanding Your Options After Detection
Your surgeon and oncologist will inform you of the type of cancer that you have, whether or not it has spread to other parts of your body, and how aggressive it is. Because so many breast cancer treatment options are available today, the choice can be confusing . Our medical team takes pride in ensuring that our patients are completely confident in their decisions concerning care. At Bedford Breast Center, we believe that education is as much a factor in treatment success as the breast cancer treatment itself.
Various breast cancer treatment options are available depending on the type of cancer identified by the pathologist. Commonly, patients undergo surgery to remove the cancer. Breast cancer surgery can range from a small lumpectomy to a double mastectomy. Our breast cancer surgeons’ extensive skill and experience enable them to perform the highest-quality breast cancer surgery available.
Surgical Breast Cancer Treatments
Three main principles are followed in breast cancer treatment surgeries:
- Removal of the cancer,
- Checking the axillary lymph nodes,
- Investigating the possibility of metastasis, or spread, of the cancer elsewhere.
Removal of the cancer involves removing enough unaffected tissue surrounding the tumor to confirm that no cancer has been left behind. This is called a clear margin. A margin greater than 2 millimeters is generally required to call a margin ”clear”. Anything less than a clear margin increases the possibility that some cancer was left behind, and this brings the risk of cancer recurrence. Radiation or chemotherapy cannot be depended upon to clean up a ‘dirty’ margin.
Checking the axillary lymph nodes is very critical to determine if the cancer has spread. The first place breast cancer spreads is to the lymph nodes in the armpit. In the past, breast cancer surgery involved removing multiple lymph nodes without identifying if all of them contained cancer cells. Recent advances in surgery now indicate that checking the “sentinel” or first draining node in the armpit will predict the condition of the rest of the nodes. This practice decreases the risks of complications of the procedure and preserves normal unaffected lymph nodes which eliminates possible side effects.
Ruling out distant or metastatic cancer is the third step in fully identifying and classifying the cancer. Scans that identify cancer in other parts of the body may alter the treatment plan and are thereby valuable for this reason.
Most physicians will check these scans for “staging” when the patient is first diagnosed. If the tumor is very small and the prognosis is favorable with little chance of spreading to other organs these advanced scans may not be ordered. Negative scans are reassuring to the patient providing peace of mind. These negative scans also serve as a baseline for future surveillance imaging, all going towards providing among the finest breast cancer treatment Los Angeles has available.
Breast Cancer Treatments
After Breast Cancer Surgery
At Bedford Breast Center, our experienced and compassionate surgeons are dedicated to providing personalized care and support throughout the entire breast reconstruction journey.
The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore the appearance of the breast following a mastectomy or lumpectomy. This transformative procedure plays a vital role in empowering our patients and helping them regain their confidence, sense of femininity, and overall well-being.
We offer various breast reconstruction techniques, including implant-based reconstruction and autologous tissue reconstruction. Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately following a mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or at a later stage (delayed reconstruction).
Our highly skilled surgeons employ advanced surgical approaches to create natural-looking breasts that closely resemble the patient’s original breast in terms of shape, symmetry, and texture. Our goal is to achieve outcomes that enhance both physical appearance and emotional well-being.