Thanks to progress in screening, diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer — the most common cancer in women and the second most deadly — is also one of the most treatable. Miami Cancer Institute’s committed and compassionate team is determined to fight it using the latest proven treatments and intensive follow-up care with all the support services you might need.Our breast cancer program offers:
- Multidisciplinary clinical care from a team of breast imaging specialists, medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons specializing in breast cancer and breast reconstruction, allied health professionals, patient navigators, genetic counselors, social workers and other breast cancer experts at the top of their fields.
- A personalized treatment and follow-up plan tailored to the type and stage of your breast cancer, as well as your personal preferences, age and general health.
- Advanced breast imaging techniques, including digital and three-dimensional (3D) mammography, breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound and other technologies. Miami Cancer Institute has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.* *
- Breast reconstruction options that can often be done immediately after breast cancer surgery if desired.
- A patient navigation program to help streamline and manage your care, so you can focus on healing and living.
- An intensive survivorship program to monitor and treat any recurrence, manage side effects and ensure that you and your family have access to all the resources you need.
- Boutique services with personal attention to help you look and feel your best during treatment and beyond.
- A compassionate approach to care delivered in an environment that promotes healing and wellness.
We’re also committed to collaboration and sharing knowledge beyond our walls to help improve breast cancer care now and for future generations. As Florida’s only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, Miami Cancer Institute is part of a dynamic, clinical collaboration with one of the world’s top cancer centers. We have aligned with their standards of care to ensure our patients receive the latest and most advanced evidence-based treatments, close to home.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control and may form a tumor. The cancer cells can invade surrounding tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Though diagnosis and treatment have greatly improved survival and quality of life for women with breast cancer, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death for women, after lung cancer. More than a quarter million new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. Breast cancer is very rare in men (less than 1 percent of cases), but still affects thousands of men each year.
The survival rate for people with breast cancer is around 90 percent, and may be as high as 99 percent when the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. Increased use and improvements in mammography have led to more cancers getting diagnosed in early stages, while they are easier to treat. Also, modern surgical techniques are less invasive than in years past, and chemotherapy and other forms of treatment are more effective. Most side effects can be treated or managed.
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A Breakthrough in Collaborative Care
As Florida's only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, Miami Cancer Institute is part of a deep and functional collaboration that affords patients access to innovative treatments right here at home and ensures that the standards of care developed by our multidisciplinary disease management team match those at MSK.
Ductal carcinoma is breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts, tubes that carry milk from the breast to the nipple. It’s the most common kind of breast cancer. Most ductal carcinoma is invasive, meaning it spreads to tissue outside the milk duct and can spread to other parts of the body. Invasive ductal carcinoma is sometimes called infiltrating ductal carcinoma.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is breast cancer that is confined to the milk ducts. (“In situ” means “in its original place.”) It’s the earliest stage of ductal carcinoma and is sometimes called stage 0 breast cancer. DCIS can progress to invasive breast cancer, so it’s important to get treated.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of cancer. The cancer cells block lymph vessels in the breast, which can cause the breast to become red and swollen. Inflammatory breast cancer tends to strike at a younger age than other forms of breast cancer, and it can progress quickly. Advances in diagnosis and treatment have greatly improved survival rates, which still tend to be lower than for other forms of breast cancer.
Lobular carcinoma begins in the lobules, or milk glands, of the breast. Lobular carcinoma in situ rarely spreads outside the breast, but invasive lobular carcinoma — the second most common breast cancer type — can spread to surrounding tissue and through the blood and lymph systems to other parts of the body.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer that is not driven by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or the protein HER2. It can be more aggressive than other forms of breast cancer and tends to strike at a younger age. Triple negative breast cancer does not respond well to hormonal therapies or HER2-specific treatments, but many other treatment options are available.
Paget’s disease of the breast, also called Paget’s disease of the nipple, is a rare form of breast cancer that affects the nipple and the dark circle around it called the areola. It can cause skin irritation, itchiness, redness or flakiness. Most people with Paget’s disease of the breast also have another form of cancer inside the breast.
Fewer than 1 percent of breast cancer cases are in men. Most breast cancer in men is ductal carcinoma. Because men don't get mammograms and may not be aware of breast cancer risk, they tend to get diagnosed at later stages. Men with breast cancer may need different services and follow-up care than women; for instance, breast cancer treatment may cause sexual or reproductive side effects in men.
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Although breast cancer affects all ages, most women who get it are older than 50, and most men who get it are older than 60.
More than 99 percent of cases are diagnosed in women.
If you’ve had breast cancer, your risk for getting it again is slightly higher than the breast cancer risk for someone who has never had it. However, newer treatments can lower the risk of a second breast cancer.
It’s important to remember that most people who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease. But about 10 percent of breast cancer cases are hereditary. You may be two to three times more likely to develop breast cancer if your mother, sister or daughter has had the disease. Many, but not all, cases of hereditary breast cancer are linked to mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. If you have a family history of breast cancer, we may recommend genetic testing to determine your risk and create a plan for prevention and early diagnosis.
Breast cancer is sometimes linked to mutations (molecular changes) in the genes BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2. Having certain mutations in these genes raises the risk of breast cancer. These mutations are sometimes inherited, but not always.
The BRCA genes and the PALB2 gene normally function as caretakers. They help cells repair their DNA when it becomes damaged. Most people have two normal copies of these genes, and thus are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer than those with a mutation.
Women with a BRCA mutation also have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Men with BRCA mutations may be at an increased risk of developing male breast cancer and prostate cancer. PALB2 mutations are also linked with pancreatic cancer.
Miami Cancer Institute can provide genetic testing and counseling to find out whether you and your relatives have these mutations. You and your relatives might benefit from genetic testing and counseling if:
- Several members of your family have had breast cancer, ovarian cancer or other types of cancer.
- You were diagnosed when you were younger than 50.
- You have had breast cancer in both breasts.
- Your breast cancer is triple negative, meaning it lacks the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and HER2 receptor.
If you had your first period before age 12 or went through menopause after age 55, your risk of breast cancer is slightly higher than average.
Some noncancerous breast conditions can increase the future likelihood of breast cancer.
If you had your first baby after the age of 30 or have never had children, you’re at a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than women who bore children before age 30.
Using some birth control pills can raise your risk of breast cancer very slightly. The increased risk disappears about a decade after you stop taking them. However, oral birth control may actually reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Using certain hormone replacement therapies after menopause slightly raises your risk of breast cancer. This added risk disappears about three to five years after you stop taking the hormones. The greatest risk is with combination hormone replacement therapy, which uses both estrogen and progestin, instead of estrogen alone.
Extra weight can increase your risk of breast cancer. It also increases the possibility that breast cancer will return after treatment, particularly after menopause. Being overweight means you have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or higher.
If you had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before age 30, you may have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
What can you do to prevent breast cancer?
Many of the risk factors for breast cancer cannot be controlled. So the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from breast cancer is get regular mammograms beginning at age 40 if you’re at average risk (or earlier if your doctor recommends it). Mammograms cannot prevent cancer, but they can detect it long before you can feel a lump. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
A healthy lifestyle may help prevent breast cancer and many other diseases. Here are some steps you can take:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your breast cancer risk.
- Stay active. Regular exercise can help you control your weight and may offer other health benefits that can reduce your risk of breast cancer.
- Know your family history. If you have a mother, sister or daughter who has had breast cancer, you may benefit from genetic testing. Some women at a high risk of hereditary breast cancer may opt to have preventive surgery. This is a big decision, so talk to your doctor and consider counseling to help you make your decision and deal with its effects.
- Consider breastfeeding. Some studies have shown that women who breastfeed their babies for at least six months have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. While some studies have shown health benefits for light drinking, three or more drinks a day can increase your risk for breast cancer and other health problems.
- Don’t smoke. While there is no direct correlation between smoking and breast cancer, avoiding smoking altogether is part of a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, speak to your doctor about how to quit.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Evidence is mounting that certain antioxidants and other nutrients in plant-based foods can help prevent cancer and other health problems. Most experts recommend at least two and a half cups of vegetables each day.
- Get annual mammograms beginning at age 40 to detect any cancerous or noncancerous changes as soon as possible. Some women may benefit from increased monitoring, so talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
This battle is going to be my victory and I am seeing life from another point of view.