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Breast health covers a range of benign and malignant diagnosis and treatment options.
To make an appointment with the breast surgeon in the High Risk Program, call (970) 569-7656.
High Risk Program
Our high risk program is for patients who may have an increased risk of breast cancer.
We monitor our patients through the program as follows:
- Clinical visits with our breast specialist
- Coordinated breast care between your primary doctor and the breast specialist
- Genetic counseling and testing
- Individualized program tailored to meet your needs to help reduce the risk of breast cancer and detect cancer early
- Annual breast imaging with mammography and other modalities, nutrition and lifestyle modifications.
- Dense breast tissue
- Prior breast biopsy/atypia
- Prior breast cancer
- Family history of cancer including breast, ovarian, pancreatic and melanoma
Our genetic counselor provided this quick checklist so you can evaluate your risk for hereditary cancer. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions below, cancer genetic counseling may be appropriate for you.
- Have more than one family members had cancer?
- Have you or a relative had cancer before age 50?
- Have more than one family member had the same type of cancer?
- Have you or a relative had more than one type of cancer?
- Have you or a relative had a rare or unusual cancer?
As noted earlier, more than 80% of all breast biopsies are not cancerous. While you should immediately report any changes in your breasts to your physician, remember that most times the change will not result in a diagnosis of breast cancer. Some examples of typically benign breast changes include benign breast lesions such as:
Benign Breast Disease
Dense Breast Tissue
Dense breast tissue is comprised of less fat and more connective tissue, which appears white on a mammogram. Cancer also appears white on a mammogram; thus, tumors are often hidden behind the dense tissue. Approximately 40 percent of women have dense breasts; however, as a woman ages, her breasts usually become less dense.
Fibrocystic changes in breast tissue are the most common cause of benign breast lumps. This tissue develops from hormonal fluctuations related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. These benign breast lumps are often fluid-filled cysts. They can change in size and often have associated breast swelling and tenderness based on the woman’s hormonal cycle.
Fibroadenoma is a benign breast lump commonly found in younger women. It feels rubbery when performing a breast self-exam, and will move easily within the breast tissue. One-third of fibroadenomas grow larger, one-third stay the same and one-third become smaller. Fibroadenomas 3 cm or larger should be surgically removed, as well as smaller masses that continue to grow larger. While fibroadenomas can cause concern, they do not develop into cancer and do not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
Spontaneous nipple discharge is abnormal and should be evaluated by your physician. The most common cause of nipple discharge is a benign growth in the ducts called a papilloma. Breast disease can originate in the ducts. Minimally invasive procedures that can directly assess early changes in these areas are critically important for early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Ductoscopy is a procedure used to evaluate nipple discharge. A small camera (0.7-0.9 mm) is inserted into the duct to evaluate the duct anatomy and identify abnormalities. If an abnormality is identified, it can be removed through a surgical biopsy. This procedure may identify small abnormalities that are not detected on other imaging modalities and therefore is a useful tool to assist in the early detection of breast cancer.
Breast pain is a common breast problem. Although persistent pain is a concern, it is rarely a symptom of breast cancer. Most breast cancers involve a mass or lump, either found by the patient or clinician or found as an abnormality on routine breast imaging. About 70 percent of women experience breast pain in their lives, and only 15 percent will require treatment. Please contact your care provider with any continuing breast pain, and be sure to have a clinical breast examination prior to making your breast imaging appointment.
Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue that can be a result of an infection. The inflammation results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. You might also experience fever and chills.
Mastitis is more commonly seen in women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis), but can also occur in women who aren't breast-feeding and in men. Mastitis is often treated with antibiotics. If there is an abscess, ultrasound aspiration with a small needle may be performed and in certain cases, surgical drainage be required.
High-risk breast lesions are non-cancerous abnormalities found in breast tissue that, while not cancerous themselves, are associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the future. These lesions include:
- Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH)
- Atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
- Atypical papilloma
Malignant Breast DiseaseUnfortunately, 20% of all breast biopsies may be cancerous, or malignant. Early detection leads to early diagnosis, which leads to early treatment and return to normal life much more quickly. Treatment options available to you will depend upon a number of factors, including the type of tumor, the extent of the disease at the time of diagnosis, your age, medical history, and other factors. Your personal preferences, such as self-image and lifestyle are important considerations when you and your physicians decide the course of your treatment. It is important to meet with other members of our multidisciplinary care team to ensure that your emotional and physical needs are being met.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you may go through a staging process to determine if the tumor has spread to other parts of your body. Your physician may order additional studies such as a breast MRI, PET scan/CT scan, and bone scan. An abnormal result in any of these studies does not always mean that the tumor has spread, but it may prompt further testing.