• Are breast self-exams necessary?

    You may already know about the importance of screening mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. But there’s another important step you can take to protect your health, and it doesn’t require an appointment. A breast self-exam is your own examination of your breasts to check for potential abnormalities. However, the recommendation in favor of monthly breast self-exams is debatable. If you aren’t sure whether it’s a good idea for you, a doctor at Los Robles Regional Medical Center can offer personalized medical guidance.

    Potential value of breast self-exams
    It’s thought that breast self-exams may support the earlier detection of abnormalities like lumps. Some breast cancers are found through detection by the patients themselves, rather than screening tests conducted at the hospital. That’s why some doctors still recommend breast self-exams when done in combination with screening mammograms.

    Possible downsides of breast self-exams
    There is evidence to suggest that breast self-exams don’t actually increase early detection rates or reduce breast cancer mortality rates. And in some cases, it’s possible for them to do more harm than good when patients undergo unnecessary biopsies.

    Instead, some health providers recommend breast self-awareness. This refers to having a good understanding of how your breasts generally look and feel in order to detect unusual changes.

    Best practices in breast self-exams
    If you are thinking of doing a breast self-exam, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. He or she can show you the proper method for performing a self-exam.

    Know that it’s natural for the breasts to change over time. Before and during your menstrual period, your breasts may naturally feel lumpy, swollen, tender and painful. They may also feel lumpy during pregnancy.

    If you decide to do a breast self-exam every month, you can write down your findings. Make a note of where your breasts feel lumpier, for example. This can help you keep track of changes.

    Breast Center at Los Robles Regional Medical Center is focused on saving lives through preventive medicine, early detection, advanced treatment and healthy survivorship. Our state-of-the-art hospital in Thousand Oaks puts our patients first because healthy patients mean stronger communities. Call a registered nurse at (877) 888-5746 for general information about our breast care services.

  • Are there different types of breast cancer?

    Although breast cancer is often discussed as though it is one condition there are multiple forms of the disease, each of which requires a unique treatment approach. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer your physician will explain the type of the disease you have and what kind of care to expect. Here’s a glimpse at the most common forms of breast cancer:

    In situ breast cancer
    In situ breast cancers are forms of the disease that have not spread into surrounding breast tissue from the site of the malignancy. Cancers that are diagnosed in this stage are usually very responsive to treatment.

    Ductal carcinoma in situ is one form of in situ cancer. Sometimes, it is also referred to as intraductal carcinoma or stage 0 breast cancer. With this form of the disease, cancer appears in the cells that line the ducts of the breast, but the malignancy has not breached the walls of the duct to impact other parts of the breast.

    Invasive breast cancer
    Invasive—or infiltrating—breast cancer occurs when cancer cells spread beyond their initial location into other parts of the breast. This kind of breast cancer can sometimes spread outside of the breast as well, through the blood and lymphatic systems.

    There are multiple types of invasive breast cancer, including:

    • Invasive lobular carcinoma
    • Invasive ductal carcinoma
    • Mixed carcinoma
    • Medullary carcinoma

    Inflammatory breast cancer
    Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and serious form of the disease. Most other types of breast cancer are indicated by lumps but may otherwise cause no symptoms at all, inflammatory breast cancer can cause redness, thickening of the skin, and itching in the affected breast.

    Another danger inflammatory breast cancer poses is its ability to spread rapidly. By the time it is diagnosed, it may have spread to the lymph nodes, which further complicates treatment. If you have the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer, consider seeing a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

    The Cancer Center at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center provides comprehensive cancer care in Thousand Oaks from diagnosis to recovery. A number of different specialists work together in this multidisciplinary department to ensure patients have access to every kind of care that can help them beat their diagnosis. Get more information about our cancer treatment program or get a referral to a specialist by calling (877) 888-5746.

  • Increase your awareness of testicular cancer

    Testicular cancer affects men of all ages from all walks of life. According to the American Cancer Society , the rate of testicular cancer has been increasing over the past several decades, but many men are unaware of the signs and risk factors for this disease. April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, which hospitals around the country embrace as an opportunity to educate the community about this form of cancer. Here are some of the facts you need to know about testicular cancer.

    Testicular cancer disproportionately affects young men.

    Although testicular cancer only accounts for one percent of cancers in men overall, it is the most common kind of cancer among men between the ages of 15 and 35 . Fortunately, testicular cancer is very treatable, despite the fact that most testicular tumors are metastatic, especially when the disease is diagnosed early. Roughly one in 250 men will get testicular cancer, but only one in 5,000 will die from the disease.

    Many risk factors are unknown.

    Testicular cancer is most common in Caucasian men. Men who have a history of testicular cancer in their families also have a higher risk of developing the disease, as do men with undescended or abnormally shaped testicles. Unlike many other forms of cancer, there are no obvious connections between testicular cancer and lifestyle choices. Men who get testicular cancer often do not have any clear risk factors for the disease.

    Knowing the signs and doing self-exams could be life-saving.

    The most frequent first indicator of testicular cancer is a painless lump on the testicles. Other signs include changes in the size of a testicle, a sense of heaviness or a collection of fluid in the scrotum and a dull ache in the lower back or groin. Some men also notice breast tissue enlargement or tenderness. Since catching cancer early is important, men should perform monthly self-exams, preferably in the bath or shower, when warm water relaxes the scrotum. If you notice any changes, see your physician.

    The Los Robles Hospital Cancer Center in Thousand Oaks provides advanced cancer treatment through a team of compassionate specialists. Find a cancer specialist or get a referral to any physician throughout our hospital network by calling (877) 888-5746.