Breast cancer treatment in Central Virginia
At HCA Virginia Physicians, our dedicated team of surgeons and oncologists is committed to helping women prevent, diagnose and treat breast cancer. In support of that, we offer advanced patient care—including diagnosis (such as breast biopsy) and treatments (such as chemo and mastectomy). This allows us to provide our patients with the greatest chance of a successful treatment.
To visit one of our breast cancer specialists, schedule an appointment online.
We offer patients advanced care for breast cancer at any stage. Our goal is to provide compassionate cancer care and individualized treatment plans, ensuring every patient receives the help they deserve.
Our surgeons use a collaborative approach by working closely with a team of specialists, including:
- Breast radiologists
- Medical oncologists
- Nurse navigators
- Radiation oncologists
- Social workers
Diagnosing breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women, and is caused by the uncontrolled growth of malignant (cancerous) breast cells. Breast cancer can also be found in men, although far less frequently.
Breast cancer can start anywhere in the breast, but starts most commonly in breast tissue. The cancer cells may eventually form a tumor, or invade nearby tissue, such as the chest wall or lymph glands.
Types of breast cancer
Breast cancer is classified by its invasiveness. “In situ” cancers are localized to the breast and are the easiest to treat and cure. “Invasive” cancers have begun to spread to nearby tissues or distant sites in the body and require more intensive treatments.
In situ breast cancers include:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)—This cancer develops in the milk ducts, is commonly found on mammograms and has a high cure rate.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)—This refers to abnormal cells that develop in the lobule, a gland in the breast. It is not technically considered a cancer, but rather a "finding" that increases the future risk for developing cancer. If found, it will be monitored by your provider for growth and development on an ongoing basis.
Invasive breast cancers include:
- Ductal carcinoma—This cancer develops in the milk ducts, is the most common form of breast cancer and accounts for 80 percent of breast cancer cases.
- Inflammatory breast cancer—This cancer is relatively uncommon, but is fast growing and difficult to treat. It is very likely to spread to the local lymph nodes and require extensive coordinated treatment.
- Lobular carcinoma—This cancer originates in the milk-producing lobules of the breast. It can spread to the fatty tissue and other parts of the body.
- Medullary, mucinous and tubular carcinomas—These are three relatively slower-growing, but still difficult to treat, types of breast cancer. They are named based on their appearance under a microscope.
Breast cancer risks
The two most common breast cancer risk factors are gender and age. Although both men and women can develop breast cancer, the disease is most common in women. The majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer are 50 years old or older.
Other factors that may increase your risk for breast cancer include:
- Dense breasts—Dense breasts are characterized by having more breast tissue than fatty tissue, the two components that make up the breast. Dense breast tissue is linked with an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Family history—Family history plays a role in a person’s risk of developing breast cancer. It is directly tied to relationship to the family member that was diagnosed with breast cancer. First-degree (i.e., parent, child or sibling) relations can as much as double a person’s risk. Second-degree (i.e., grandparent, aunt/uncle or niece/nephew) relations present little to no correlation.
- Genetics—Certain genetics may increase breast cancer risk if the individual has a specific mutated cell DNA that is predisposed to cancer development. These mutations are inherited, with the two most common being the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
- Lifestyle factors—Certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and being sedentary, can contribute to your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Medical conditions—Medical conditions, such as prior cancers, advanced maternal age pregnancy, excess weight and increased exposure to estrogen may contribute to the development of breast cancer.
Breast cancer services and treatments
Together with one of our affiliated hospitals, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital and Johnston-Willis Hospital, we offer the latest surgical techniques and procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and benign breast disease.
Surgical options offered at our breast care center include:
- Breast-conserving surgery
- Minimally invasive breast biopsy
- Minimally invasive surgical lymph node assessment
- Various types of mastectomy
After breast cancer surgery, our physicians work with plastic surgeons on the breast care team to offer reconstructive options. Most of the time, women have the option of having their breast surgery and reconstruction in a single operation.
Frozen tissue pathology
We now offer frozen tissue pathology as an advanced tool to ensure the success of breast cancer surgery. When a patient undergoes a procedure to treat breast cancer, tissues are analyzed and diagnosed to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and if they should be removed.
This examination of tissue usually takes 24 hours. However, with frozen tissue pathology we can make this assessment rapidly. This allows the surgeon to make any needed adjustments immediately and can eliminate the need for additional surgeries.
Knowledge is the best defense against breast cancer
According to Sarah Cannon, 12 percent of women in the U.S. will receive a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime. Knowledge about breast cancer, including the symptoms, increases the chance of detecting the disease early, when it is more treatable.
Talk to your doctor about getting a breast cancer screening if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- A lump under your arm or on your breast
- Pain in the breasts or nipples
- Discharge from the breasts (other than breast milk)
- An inwardly turned nipple
- Swelling of the breasts
- Scaling or redness developing on the nipple or breast skin