• Understanding breast cancer treatment at Stage IV

    Stage IV breast cancer is also known as advanced breast cancer or metastatic breast cancer. Instead of treating breast cancer at the source of the tumor, physicians take a systemic approach to care for patients at stage IV of the disease. Here is what you need to know about stage IV breast cancer and how it is treated.

    What are the characteristics of stage IV breast cancer?
    At stage IV, breast cancer has metastasized beyond the breast tissue and the lymph nodes near the breast to other parts of the body. Some of the organs that are often involved when breast cancer spreads are:

    • Bones
    • Liver
    • Lungs
    • Brain

    Because the cancer is now in more than one part of the body at stage IV, your cancer care team will need to treat the disease in all of the parts of the body that are affected.

    What is systemic care?
    Systemic care for cancer means that the treatments are targeted at the body as a whole, instead of being focused on the localized site of the cancer. For stage IV breast cancer, this means not only treating cancer at the site of the tumor in the breast but instead taking a broader approach to care.

    Some of the systemic treatments used for stage IV breast cancer are:

    • Hormone therapy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Targeted drug therapy

    Often, women receive a combination of these systemic treatments. Although stage IV breast cancer is usually not considered to be curable, these treatments can stop the progression of the disease and help women live longer.

    Are localized treatments still used?
    In some instances, localized treatments can be combined with systemic care to achieve the best results. For example, your physician may recommend surgery to remove a tumor or radiation of a specific affected location in order to boost the effectiveness of systemic care.

    Good Samaritan Hospital provides comprehensive cancer care in San Jose, combining the very latest discoveries in medical advances with compassionate support from a multidisciplinary team of specialists. Contact us today at (888) 724-2362 for more information about our cancer care program and to get a referral to one of our cancer specialists.

  • What to expect at your first mammogram

    Mammograms are a key part of preventive care for women. Starting at an age that is recommended by your physician based on your personal needs, you should have regular mammograms so that your breast tissues can be examined for abnormalities that could indicate breast cancer. If you have never had a mammogram, it’s normal to be a little nervous about what to expect. Here is what you need to know.

    Arriving at the screening facility
    When you arrive for your mammogram, you will be checked in for your appointment. The technician who will be performing your mammogram will ask you some questions about your health to ensure that it’s safe for you to have a mammogram. It’s important to let the technician know if you could be pregnant.

    You will be given a smock that ties in the front to wear. Many women prefer to wear pants or a skirt on the day of their mammogram so that they can easily remove their tops while leaving their bottoms on.

    Getting your mammogram
    When you enter the room in which your mammogram will be taken, your technician will place one of your breasts on a flat plate and position it so that a clear picture can be taken. Another plate will be lowered from above to compress the breast. Some women experience mild discomfort at this point, but as the video explains, the process is over quickly.

    You need to stand every still and hold your breath for a few seconds while the image is taken. Then, the plate will lift, allowing your technician to place your breast in a different position for another photo. This process will be completed on both breasts until the technician has all of the necessary pictures.

    Getting your results
    Your technician will tell you when you can expect to get the results. They will be provided to your physician. You may also get a letter in the mail.

    Your results may say that your breasts are all clear, or they may advise you to have a follow-up mammogram or biopsy to explore a suspected issue further.

    The Breast Care Center at Good Samaritan Hospital provides comprehensive breast health care, including mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsy procedures. For a referral to our breast health team in San Jose, call (888) 724-2362.

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