In a small percentage of women, a painful breast lump turns out to be cancer.
“Overall, contraceptives still have a favorable risk benefit for women as contraception,” says Wendy Chen, MD, a senior physician in Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers.
Harmful BRCA mutations are uncommon in the general population. About one in every 500 women in the United States has either a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
Love and commitment have enabled Lynda and Ellen Thomas to get through Lynda’s diagnosis and treatment for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).
Could adding soy milk to your coffee or substituting tofu for meat increase your risk of breast cancer? The research is conflicting, but our breast cancer doctor, Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, is here to help us cut through the noise. “[It’s] one of the most common questions I get from breast cancer survivors,” says Chen, … Read more
Receiving the news that something abnormal has turned up on a routine mammogram can be frightening, but breast calcifications are usually harmless. In rare instances, they can be an early sign of breast cancer, though calcifications themselves do not develop into cancer. What are breast calcifications? All cells in the body have a life span; … Read more
Sitting recently in Dana-Farber’s Healing Garden, Kireina Bell Sancho focuses on her task. She slowly works navy blue yarn through her needles, drawing the yarn back and forth to form the base of a headband – a gift for her sister. She says the repetitive motion, which requires both attention and precision, has been stress-relieving during … Read more
Gabby Spear, a young, active mom, had never noticed a lump or pain before suddenly finding her breast cancer in November 2013, when she was 38. She was shocked. But, with two young daughters, there wasn’t much time to adjust to her new normal. In the latest episode of Voices: Then and Now, Spear recalls her … Read more
Charlotte Kelly hated having her chemotherapy port accessed, but her mother, Patrice, found a way to calm the toddler. Each time tears came, Patrice would rub her nose against Charlotte’s – and the pair would get past their fears together. Today the ritual continues, even though Charlotte’s last neuroblastoma checkup at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and … Read more
When Mike Johnston felt a lump in his chest in 2009, he assumed it was a side effect of a high blood pressure medication. But after a routine doctor’s visit, followed by a mammogram and ultrasound, Johnston’s diagnosis was confirmed: He had male breast cancer. Only 2,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast … Read more
Many women who undergo a mastectomy, either to treat breast cancer or reduce their risk for the disease, are eligible for reconstructive procedures that restore the shape of the lost breast. The choice a woman makes – whether to have reconstruction, what type, and when – is highly personal, and takes into account her overall … Read more
By Melissa Angiolillo When I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at age 35, I was overcome with fear. Buried within that fear was guilt that I wasn’t handling my diagnosis the “right” way. The pressure to be positive was overwhelming. It seemed as though I was expected to wrap myself in a pink … Read more
By Eric Winer, MD When I was a first-year oncologist in 1990, there were 150,000 cases of breast cancer each year in the U.S. and 44,000 deaths. Breast cancer back then was viewed as a single disease. When patients asked me, “What kind of breast cancer do I have?” I would say, “You have stage … Read more
When Catherine Goff was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma while attending college in the 1970s, it was the shock of a lifetime. Less surprising – but still life-changing – was her later diagnosis with breast cancer, a common secondary cancer for patients like Goff who received high doses of radiation therapy to the chest. Between these … Read more
When Erin’s phone rang the night before her first visit to Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, she was surprised to hear the voice of the oncologist she would see the next day: Ann Partridge, MD, MPH. “She called to tell me it was going to be okay,” says Erin, who was 36 … Read more
By Yvette Kaplan From her early days growing up in Hungary, Yvette Kaplan has possessed a strong will to survive. Whether it was German occupation during World War II, communism and a daring break for freedom as a teen, or cancer’s devastating impact on her family, she has met each challenge with resilience – … Read more
Just as there are many types of breast-conserving surgery or reconstruction available to cancer patients after mastectomies or lumpectomies, there are a variety of considerations for those who – after consultation with their oncologist – decide to forego more surgery and wear breast prostheses (or breast forms and partial shapers). Diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer … Read more
Following surgery and/or radiation for early stage breast cancer, chemotherapy is sometimes given to eliminate remaining cancer cells that could cause trouble later. Traditionally, women have been more likely to undergo follow-up chemotherapy if clinical and pathological factors suggested a significant risk of recurrence, such as a larger tumor, higher stage and pathological grade of … Read more
Although there is currently little evidence that breast self-exams help find breast cancer early when women also get screening mammograms, doing regular self-exams can be a way for you to keep track of how your breasts look and feel, according to the American Cancer Society. Any changes in your breasts should be reported to your … Read more
Most breast lumps are not cancer. But many myths persist about the relationship between the two – including whether a woman can tell if a lump is cancer by the way it feels, and whether a small lump is less likely to be cancer than a large lump. With the help of Beth Overmoyer, MD, … Read more