Cancer Types - Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer diagnosed in women. It is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 15 to 55. LifeBridge Health offers screening, diagnostics and the full array of treatment options to detect and treat breast cancer effectively.

Screening and diagnosis

Breast cancer diagnosis involves the use of screening tools. Three screening methods are commonly used to detect breast cancer and are utilized at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center at Northwest Hospital :

  1. Breast self-exam: When a women checks her own breasts for lumps or anything that seems unusual.
  2. Clinical breast exam: When a doctor or other health professional examines a woman's breasts by carefully feeling the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything that seems abnormal.
  3. Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast that may be used to detect tumors that are too small to feel by breast self-exam or by clinical breast exam.

Treatment

Breast cancer treatment may include four different types of therapies. Each person's treatment may vary and consist of one or a combination of these therapies:

  1. Surgery

    Many patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm are usually removed and examined under a microscope to see if they contain cancer cells. LifeBridge Health has many surgeons who offer state-of the-art treatment for solid tumors. Surgical procedures include:

    • Lumpectomy: a surgical procedure to remove a tumor (lump) and a small amount of normal tissue around it
    • Partial mastectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the part of the breast that contains cancer and some normal tissue around it
    • Sentinel node biopsy: a biopsy of a specific lymph node or nodes that are the first to drain the breast and collect cancer cells
    • Lymph node dissection: a surgical procedure to remove some of the lymph nodes under the arm for biopsy
    • Total mastectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the whole breast that contains cancer. Some of the lymph nodes under the arm may be removed for biopsy at the same time as the breast surgery; sometimes lymph nodes are removed later.
    • Modified radical mastectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the entire breast that contains cancer, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles and sometimes part of the muscles in the chest wall
    • Radical mastectomy: a surgical procedure to remove the breast that contains cancer, chest wall muscles under the breast and all of the lymph nodes under the arm

    Treatment given after surgery to increase survival is called adjuvant therapy. This may be a combination of radiation therapy, hormone therapy and/or chemotherapy.

  2. Radiation therapy
    Radiation therapy is a localized cancer treatment that uses high-dose X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. The LifeBridge Health Radiation Therapy Centers provide the most advanced radiotherapy for many cancers.
  3. Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Medical Oncology/Hematology at Sinai directs the chemotherapy program throughout LifeBridge Health, and most patients receive chemotherapy at one of the LifeBridge Health Infusion Centers at Northwest and Sinai hospitals.
  4. Hormone therapy
    Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action, inhibiting cancer cell from growth. An example of hormone therapy is Tamoxifen.

Clinical trials

Breast Cancer definitionClinical trials are human research studies conducted with patients who volunteer to participate. These studies test safe and effective ways to prevent, screen, diagnose and/or treat a disease. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if the new treatment is better than the standard treatment for a specific disease.

See the trials currently available to breast cancer patients.


Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Centers

The Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center now offers comprehensive breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment at two locations: Northwest Hospital and Quarry Lake. Some of the most advanced technologies for the evaluation of breast disease in the Baltimore area are found at our centers. Each center's team includes a dedicated breast surgeon and radiologist, registered nurses and mammographers.


Outpatient chemotherapy infusion services

The LifeBridge Health Infusion Centers are located at both Northwest and Sinai hospitals. The Infusion Center at Northwest Hospital is newly built with a beautiful, comforting environment overlooking a peaceful garden. The Infusion Center at Sinai Hospital has been designed for patient comfort and features an elaborate aquarium. Both centers are staffed by oncology-certified nurses and nurse practitioners.