If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, Cape Cod Healthcare’s oncologists and cancer specialists can guide you through the choices that are right for you. Whether that involves radiation, surgery or chemotherapy and other biomedical treatments, we offer personalized care and can connect you to the best specialists on Cape Cod and elsewhere.
How to Spot Signs of Breast Cancer
Early breast cancer is not usually painful, so you may not notice any symptoms. As the cancer grows, however, it can cause changes in your breast. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- A lump or thickening in or near your breast or in your underarm area.
- A change in the shape or size of your breast.
- Discharge from your nipple or tenderness.
- Inverted nipple.
- Ridges or pitting that looks like the skin of an orange.
- A change in the way the skin of the breast, nipple or areola (the dark area surrounding your nipple) looks or feels. It should not be warm, swollen, red or scaly.
- A sore or ulcer on your breast that does not heal.
How Breast Cancer Is Diagnosed
Your doctor will examine your breasts and may order some of the following tests:
- Mammogram – This is a non-invasive X-ray of your breast that can detect tumors that are too small for your doctor to feel. At Cape Cod Healthcare, we use the latest and most effective screening tools, including 3-D Mammography or tomosynthesis. 3-D Mammography provides an enhanced view of the breast, allowing physicians to evaluate breast tissue layer by layer. This makes tumors more visible and reduces the incidences of false positives. The technology is available at all three CCHC breast imaging centers: Cuda Women’s Health Center in Hyannis, Seifer Women’s Health and Imaging Center in Falmouth and Fontaine Outpatient Center in Harwich.
- MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses radio waves to detect tumors and is more accurate than X-rays in certain types of breast tissue. This is a non-invasive technique and you may qualify for FAST Breast MRI, which takes only three to five minutes.
- Ultrasound – This noninvasive test uses sound waves to create an image. Your doctor can use it to evaluate lumps that have been identified through your breast exam or imagery.
- Fine needle aspiration – Your doctor uses a thin needle to remove fluid or cells from a breast lump for further testing.
- Surgical biopsy – During a biopsy, your doctor will remove all or part of the breast lump for lab testing. The doctor will numb the incision area before inserting a needle to get a sample of the lump tissue. You may be sore for a few days afterwards.
How Breast Cancer Is Treated
Depending on the location, size and stage of the tumor, your breast cancer treatment may include:
Your doctor will collaborate with other experts from many disciplines, including from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital are both accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, which sets standards for breast cancer care.
How to Get Support
Cape Cod Healthcare offers a full range of cancer support services for both patients and families. We can help with education, health insurance, crisis intervention, complementary and alternative treatments, transportation, genetic counseling, and networking with other patients. We also cooperate with the American Cancer Society to offer programs such as “Look Good Feel Better.”
How to learn more
Find out more information about breast cancer from the American Cancer Society.