What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

June 12, 2017

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer. Accounting for less than 5% of all breast cancer diagnoses, the cancer forms in the cells that line the breasts’ milk ducts, but quickly spreads to nearby lymph nodes and sometimes other tissues in the body. The cancer is called “inflammatory” because the cancer cells usually block the lymph vessels in the breast. This causes fluid to build up, which leads to inflammation that is usually red and tender.

How is Inflammatory Breast Cancer Different than Typical Breast Cancers?

Compared to slower-growing forms of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer progresses and spreads through the body quickly – sometimes in a matter of weeks.

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Dr. Lucy Langer and Dr. Tammy De La Melena Present at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

March 23, 2017

The San Antonio Breast Cancer Syposium was held December 6 - 20, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Tammy De La Melena, Breast Surgical Oncologist, and Dr. Lucy Langer, Medical Oncologist, gave presentations at the symposium focusing on individual topics and how Compass Oncology uses clinical research to provide the best care possible for their patieints. Below are summaries of the two presentations given by Dr. Langer and Dr. De La Melena.

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Exercise and Breast Cancer: The Benefits and How to Get Started

November 18, 2016

As a breast cancer patient or breast cancer survivor, it’s important to stay active – even if you don’t feel up to it. In a recent study by Kerry Courneya, PhD, found that women with breast cancer that participated in a resistance training program during chemotherapy required less dosage and fewer delays in their chemotherapy treatments.  Of course, if you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment, you should first discuss exercise with your doctor. For most breast cancer patients, rigorous activity isn’t recommended, but regular moderate exercise, such as walking or strength training with light weights, can help you to feel better, and as strange as it may sound, you might even feel less tired than before you exercised.

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Breast Cancer Care

August 11, 2016

While one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime, dramatic advances have been made in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disease. We can now test each patient’s tumor for molecular and genetic changes. This allows us to understand the exact biologic process taking place and better choose the medications and therapies that are targeted directly for that cancer. Some call this personalized medicine, some call it precision medicine and some call it targeted therapy. Regardless of the name, the result is breast cancer has an excellent survival rate when caught early.

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When Should You See a Complex Breast Specialist?

August 8, 2016

If you’ve been told you have an increased risk for developing breast cancer, regular follow-up with a breast cancer specialist is essential and the first step to risk reduction strategies and active monitoring. Compass Oncology’s Complex Breast Clinic was founded to provide focused care for patients with inherited gene mutations and other complex breast issues including:

  • Dense breast tissue shown on imaging
  • A lump you can feel that doesn’t show up on imaging
  • Nipple discharge
  • Inflammatory lesions
  • Atypia (an accumulation of abnormal cells in the breast which increases the risk of developing cancer)
  • Adenosis (enlarged breast lobules with more glands than usual)

To schedule an appointment at the Compass Complex Breast Clinic, please call 503.297.7403 in Portland or 360.944.9889 in Vancouver. Learn more about Compass Breast Specialists.

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Oncoplastic Breast Cancer Surgery

August 5, 2016

Today, women undergoing mastectomies have the advantage of significant advances in reconstructive breast surgery and leading-edge oncoplastic techniques that allow the skilled breast surgeon to preserve the envelope of the breast and sometimes the nipple for exceptional cosmetic outcomes.

Oncoplastic breast cancer surgery combines the optimal techniques of breast cancer surgery and plastic surgery to give patients an appealing outcome. Women who undergo successful oncoplastic breast cancer surgery have higher self-esteem and a more positive self-image than women who have a traditional mastectomy. Oncoplastic techniques are also used in breast conserving surgery or lumpectomy.

Some of the benefits of oncoplastic breast cancer surgery include:

  • A wider margin around the cancer can be removed for better cancer control
  • Breast tissue in both breasts can be reshaped providing symmetry between the breasts
  • The nipple may be repositioned if necessary

All Compass breast surgical oncologists are highly skilled in oncoplastic breast cancer surgery. To learn more about your options for oncoplastic breast cancer surgery, call our Compass Breast Specialists team:

Portland – 503 297 7403

Vancouver – 360 944 9889

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Common Misconceptions about Breast Cancer Risk Factors

August 4, 2016

The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman. There are numerous misconceptions about who is likely to get breast cancer out there.

Many women often think they can’t get breast cancer unless they’re old.
The fact is almost one quarter of women are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50.

Women often think they can’t get breast cancer if it doesn’t run in their family.
The truth is the vast majority of breast cancers are not the result of an inherited gene mutation. That’s why it’s important to start mammograms at age forty and have them regularly. It’s the changes in the breast over time that help the radiologist find breast cancers.

Too many women put off having their mammogram because they are afraid of what they may find. The truth is when diagnosed early breast cancer has more than a 95% survival rate.

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Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

August 2, 2016

We all know that early detection of breast cancer saves lives yet many women often take a “wait and see” attitude when they notice a change in their breasts. We’re busy. We think it will go away. Oh, it’s probably nothing. Why take that chance? The experts at Compass Oncology and survivors everywhere urge you to see your doctor immediately if you notice:

  • A new lump or mass
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast even if you don’t feel a lump
  • Pain in the breast or nipple
  • Nipple discharge
  • Nipple retraction or turning inward
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast tissue

We can’t stress enough that any new mass should be evaluated by a doctor skilled in breast cancer diagnosis. It’s a misconception that if the lump isn’t painful, it doesn’t need to be checked. Even though it’s true a mass that’s painless and hard with irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, breast cancers can be tender, soft or rounded, even painful. 

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