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Not all breast cancers are the same

caines | 10/25/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the United States. While most risk factors cannot be changed (such as genetics, starting menstruation early or menopause late, and age) there are factors you can control. These controllable risk factors may include: Consuming three alcoholic drinks or more a day Having no children or your first child after the age of 35 Being overweight Using birth control While these are all breast cancer risk factors, there is no one-size-fits-all diagnosis for breast cancer itself. Breast cancer can be divided into four types with each differing in severity and point of origin. It is important for patients to be aware of what type of breast cancer they are diagnosed with, as treatment and type of physicians may vary. DCIS Ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, is one of the least invasive breast cancer diagnoses. Ductal indicates that the cancer is located in the milk ducts. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or tissue that lines internal organs. In situ, which in Latin means in its original place, indicates that the cancer has not spread to other parts of the breast or body. This type of breast cancer, thanks to its contained nature, is not life-threatening when it is detected before spreading to other parts of the body. Treatment usually consists of a breast-conserving surgery such as a lumpectomy. While this procedure may be sufficient, most doctors also recommend some radiation treatment after the surgery because any cancer has the potential to spread. Dr. Hkan Charles-Harris, Medical Director of North Shore Medical Centers Breast Center, which will open in early 2013, usually recommends a minimally-invasive biopsy to get a tissue diagnosis. If the tissue is determined to be cancerous, he explains, various options for surgery are recommended. If radiation is necessary, external or targeted radiation therapy is offered by our radiation oncologists after they discuss these techniques with the patient. LCIS Lobular carcinoma in situ is another type of non-invasive breast cancer that is similar to DCIS because it is confined to its point of origin. However, LCIS begins in the breast lobules, which are located at the end of the milk ducts. LCIS is usually found in premenopausal women and discovered as a result of doing a biopsy. Most experts do not actually consider LCIS cancer, but rather an abnormal tissue growth, and LCIS is also treated with a breast-conserving surgery. IDC Invasive ductal carcinoma (or infiltrating ductal carcinoma) is a more invasive and therefore potentially life-threatening cancer diagnosis. This is the most frequently diagnosed form of invasive breast cancer, accounting for 80 percent of all cases. IDC begins in the milk ducts and invades the surrounding tissue. Like all breast cancers, early diagnosis is critical since it can move through the bloodstream and lymphatic system very rapidly. IDC is commonly treated by surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments. Treatment for this sometimes involves mastectomy and chemotherapy. ILC Invasive lobular carcinoma begins in a lobule of the breast and spreads to surrounding tissue. If not detected early, ILC has the potential to spread throughout the body, specifically to the uterus and ovaries. ILC is the second most commonly diagnosed invasive breast cancer and is typically found in women between the ages of 45 and 56. ILC is usually detected by biopsies performed because of lumps found in the breast. Be proactive in the health of yourself and your loved ones. Its important to exam your breasts monthly, and see your doctor immediately if you notice any changes, said Dr. Charles-Harris. Breast cancer can be the result of many different combinations of controllable and uncontrollable risk factors, and can manifest itself in many different forms. Symptoms may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from the nipple. It is absolutely critical that women receive the recommended annual mammogram in addition to a clinical breast exam by a physician. Dr. Hkan Charles-Harris is Board Certified by both the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Vascular Medicine Endovascular. Caring for the North Miami community since 2000, Dr. Charles-Harris has served three consecutive terms as Chief of Surgery at North Shore Medical Center, and one term as Vice-Chief of Staff at North Shore Medical Center. He is a Professor of Surgery at the Florida International University School of Medicine and has been appointed Medical Director of the new Breast Center at North Shore Medical Center which will be opening in early 2013. Call today at: 1800-984-3434 to schedule your mammogram.