What You Should Know About Breast Cancer and Treatment

Thanks to some wonderfully effective awareness campaigns, most people know at least something about breast cancer and the importance of self breast exams and mammograms. October is breast cancer awareness month, and we’d like to join with other breast cancer groups to spread the word and raise awareness about risk factors, signs and symptoms, treatment alternatives and an early detection plan that could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Alternatives to Traditional Surgery

At Northwestern Memorial, we strive to make the patient experience as good as it can be. We focus on making patients comfortable, both physically and emotionally, and we are always working toward better treatments and patient outcomes.

Physicians and Surgeons on staff at Northwestern Memorial are working on three different mastectomy alternatives. And we're developing new and innovative techniques for breast reconstruction. Neil Fine, MD is pioneering procedures that help women preserve as much of their breast tissue as possible, including a procedure called Endoscopic Assisted Latissimus Dorsi Reconstruction (EARLi). To learn more about EARLi, watch a video that explains this ground-breaking procedure.

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, no one yet knows exactly what causes the disease, but there are some risk factors that make women more likely than others to develop breast cancer. For more detailed information about risk factors, visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Web site.

Signs and Symptoms

In its early stages, breast cancer doesn’t typically cause pain. However, any visible change or new lump or mass in your breast could be a sign of cancer.

If you find a mass and you are pre-menopausal, your doctor might recommend waiting one menstrual cycle to see if the mass disappears (it could be a cyst). However, you should contact your doctor if you feel or see any change in your breasts. It's possible these changes mean nothing, but they could also be your body's response to breast cancer.

Learn More about Breast Cancer

If you have questions about breast cancer or would like more information, there are many good, reputable sources of information available. Through the Health Learning Center at Northwestern Memorial, you can find Internet sources, book suggestions, videos and support groups. You may also want to speak with a physician about your questions or concerns. If you don’t have a doctor, you can find a Northwestern Memorial physician by calling our Physician Referral Service at (877) 926-4664. You may also request an appointment online.

Resources at Northwestern Memorial

Breast Cancer: Medical Treatment Options
Breast Cancer: Screening
Breast Cancer: Surgical Treatment Options

Regain Function after Breast Cancer
Look Good . . . Feel Better
Cancer Navigator Program

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Do you need help finding a physician? Contact our Physician Referral Department at 877-926-4664 or request a first time appointment online.

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