Breast cancer is most common in women, but can also affect men. Often, breast cancer is detected through a lump in the breast or a noticeable change in the size, shape or skin of a breast. Mammograms are crucial for diagnosis and early detection of breast cancer.
Breast cancer specialists in Florida
At HCA Florida Healthcare, we understand a breast cancer diagnosis can be stressful and overwhelming.
This is why we offer complete breast cancer care and continued support—from diagnosis through recovery. We want you to feel comfortable and secure with your treatment plan. To do this, our oncology doctors partner with you to hear your concerns, answer your questions and create an effective treatment plan that is right for you.
Our Treatments & Services
Our wide range of breast cancer services includes:
Screening for breast cancer
A breast cancer screening doesn't prevent the disease, but it can detect it early, while it's still in a more treatable stage. Our hospitals offer a variety of breast care services to ensure breast health, including:
- Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Breast ultrasounds
- Breast ultrasound biopsies
- Dedicated high-risk breast clinic
- Genetic counseling for high-risk patients
Mammogram screenings use low-dose X-ray imaging technology to examine breast tissue. Our hospitals use mammography to diagnose breast cancer and breast tissue anomalies, such as tumors and other breast diseases.
The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes, but the actual breast compression only lasts a few seconds. You may feel some discomfort when your breasts are compressed.
3D mammograms provide a series of detailed images of the breast, which allow the technician and doctor to better evaluate breast tissue layer by layer. This procedure makes fine details more visible and no longer hidden by overlapping tissue.
When to get a breast cancer screening
HCA Healthcare Florida recommends the following screenings by age and risk category:
- 20 years old and older: perform self-exams monthly and promptly report any changes to your physician
- 20 to 40 years old: get a breast exam by your physician every three years
- 40 years old and older: get a mammogram and breast exam by your physician every year
We encourage you to talk with your physician regularly about your breast health starting as early as 25 years old. Discuss your individualized risk for breast cancer with them, and, if you are higher risk, ask about genetic counseling or early screenings.
Staging for better breast cancer treatment
During your diagnosis, breast cancer is "staged." Understanding the stage and type of breast cancer will help us plan your treatment.
The stage is based on:
- Size and where the tumor is
- Whether cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes
- Whether cancer cells are found in other parts of the body
Stage ranges from stage 0 (referred to as "carcinoma in situ") to stage IV (when tumors have spread to other parts of the body).
Treatment for breast cancer
After a diagnosis is provided, our doctors will discuss individual care options for you, including treatment plans.
The most common treatments for breast cancer include:
- Infusion therapy, including chemotherapy
- Radiation therapy
Our cancer care teams
HCA Florida searches within our network to put together a multidisciplinary team of collaborative cancer care specialists. These specialists will work together to craft a treatment plan that's tailored to your unique cancer care needs and specific condition.
Our teams include specialized:
- Medical oncologists
- Oncology nurse navigators
- Radiation oncologists
- Radiologists, including interventional radiologists
- Reconstructive surgeons (plastic surgeons)
- Surgical oncologists
Breast cancer risk factors
Knowledge is the best defense against breast cancer. That's why we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the risk factors for developing breast cancer.
The following factors may indicate a higher risk for developing breast cancer:
- Age — The chance of developing breast cancer increases as a woman gets older.
- Breast density — Having dense breasts can increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer.
- Genes — Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Personal factors — Personal factors that place women at a higher risk of developing breast cancer include beginning a menstrual cycle before 12 years old or going through menopause after 55 years old.
Additional breast cancer risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Drinking alcohol
- Having had prior radiation to the chest
- Not having children or having your first child after 35 years old
- Taking birth control pills
- Using hormone replacement therapy (also called menopausal hormone therapy)
Breast cancer risk factors in men
Breast cancer also occurs in men, though not as often as it does in women. Factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer in men include:
- Being overweight
- Drinking alcohol
- Having certain genetic predispositions such as inherited gene mutations or BRCA changes that are more common if you are of Ashkenazi Jewish decent
- Having estrogen (hormone) treatments
- Having had radiation in the past
- Having Klinefelter's syndrome
- Having liver disease
- Having mumps orchitis (swollen testicles)
- Having other people in your family who have had breast cancer
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Early detection of breast cancer greatly increases your chances for a successful treatment, which is why it's important to learn the early warning signs.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
- Dimpling of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Pain in the nipple area
- Redness or irritation in the nipple area
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Being familiar with your breasts through self-exams and mammograms can help find breast cancer early, when it is most treatable.
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