Breast Cancer: Detection & Treatment Options
Diagnosing Breast Cancer
When breast cancer is found early, the success rate is nearly 100%. But when and how often do you start looking? The American Cancer Society recommends breast screenings annually for women over 45 and continuing as long as you are in good health. Other organizations, including the Mayo Clinic and your radiology oncologists at Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center, suggest you begin annual screenings at age 40. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently contradicted this advice, recommending mammograms for women between the ages of 50 and 74 every two years.
Whenever you decide to begin breast cancer screenings, Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center houses an advanced imaging facility that can give you easy access to the full range of diagnostic exams required for screening, diagnosing, and treating your breast cancer. The staff of caring and qualified radiologists can determine the best type of imaging for your needs including:
- 2-D Mammography – This is the most common form of screening for breast cancer. It captures an x-ray of the breast from two angles and makes it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt.
- 3-D Mammography – Also called breast tomosynthesis, this is the most advanced breast cancer detection technology available. Similar to 2-D mammography, it requires breast compression. It allows radiologists to examine breast tissue layer by layer for a more detailed view. The screening accuracy results in fewer unnecessary biopsies, tests, and false-positives.
- Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) – This procedure is a second step screening tool that allows doctors to view breast tissue using sound waves. It is recommended for women with documented dense breast tissue. It can also be used with a mammogram to further characterize tissue in a suspicious area. ABUS usually requires a doctor’s referral.
- Breast MRI – This tool is a non-invasive test that uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency waves, and a computer to produce clearer, more detailed pictures of your breast. It is a diagnostic tool that helps radiologists determine if a biopsy is necessary and can also determine the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis.
- Stereotactic Breast Biopsy – When doctors identify a mass or suspicious breast tissue, a tissue sample is sometimes necessary to find out whether or not cancer is present. Today’s biopsy technologies can avoid incisions and instead use stereotactic, ultrasound, or MRI equipment to guide doctors to the specific location of the tissue and extract a sample through a hollow needle.
Types Of Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Breast cancer may show up in many different ways. It could just be a small spot found on an annual mammogram. Or it could be a web of cancerous cells spread throughout the breast and body. These varied types of breast cancer require a variety of treatment options, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. When it comes to treating your breast cancer with radiation therapy, Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center is your expert choice.
- Advanced Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) – Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center houses the most advanced equipment including the IGRT which can track and capture your tumor as it moves or adjusts from day-to-day. This treatment option pinpoints exactly where your tumor is so that you can focus the treatment on only that area, leaving the rest of the surrounding tissue unharmed. Your initial CT scan can be updated using IGRT each time your visit to ensure your treatment is focused.
- Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx) – Women who choose a lumpectomy rather than a full mastectomy need radiation treatment following surgery. The eBx is an advanced treatment therapy that sends radiation directly in the tumor cavity from inside the body. This is accomplished by inserting a balloon catheter into the tumor cavity. It fills with fluid to fill the space and stays there throughout the treatment. During your approximately 10 minutes of treatment, a radiation oncologists inserts a tiny piece of radioactive material through the catheter tube and into the balloon. It releases radiation based on your treatment plan. Depending on the stage of cancer, this can be a high dose (HDR) or a low dose (LDR) of radiation. Radiation treatment is completed in five days, rather than the weeks required for traditional radiation treatments. When you are finished, the radiation oncologist drains and removes the balloon so the cavity can heal.
- Intraoperative Brachytherapy (Xoft) – This type of internal treatment uses a miniaturized high dose of x-ray source targeted directly on the tumor. The x-ray can be turned on or off, while a radioactive isotope is always emitting radiation. Because of this, no special shields are needed and you are not isolated during treatment.
- RapidArc Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) – RapidArc delivers treatments two to eight times faster than our other dynamic treatments and it increases precision. This volumetric arc therapy delivers precice 3-D doses with a single 360° rotation of the machine. It uses your treatment planning algorithm to simultaneously change the rotation speed, the shape of the treatment aperture, and the delivery dose rate. The shape and position of the tumor are determined from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic studies. This permits improved dose sculpturing over 3-D conformal radiation therapy.
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