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    Breast Cancer - Topic Overview

    If you or your doctor finds a lump or another change, the doctor will want to take a sample of the cells in your breast (biopsy). The results of the biopsy help your doctor know if you have cancer and what type of cancer it is.

    You may have other tests to find out the stage of the cancer. The stage is a way for doctors to describe how far the cancer has spread. Your treatment choices will be based partly on the type and stage of cancer.

    You and your doctor will decide which mix of treatments is right for you based on many things. These include facts about your cancer as well as your family history, other health problems, and your feelings about keeping your breast.

    Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy.

    In some cases, you may need to decide whether to have surgery to remove just the cancer (breast-conserving surgery, or lumpectomy) or surgery that removes the entire breast (mastectomy).

    Treatments can cause side effects. Your doctor can let you know what problems to expect and help you find ways to manage them.

    When you find out that you have cancer, you may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Talking with other women who are going through the same thing may help. Your doctor or your local branch of the American Cancer Society can help you find a support group.

    At this time, there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer.

    Some risk factors, such as your age and being female, cannot be controlled. But you may be able to do things to stay as healthy as you can, such as having a healthy diet and being active. Knowing your risk of getting breast cancer also can help you choose what steps to take.

    Talk to your doctor about your risk. Find out when to start having mammograms and how often you need one. If your doctor confirms that you have a high or very high risk, ask about ways to reduce your risk, such as getting extra screening, taking medicine, or having surgery.

    If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, ask your doctor about genetic testing. A blood test can check for changes in the BRCA genes that may increase your chance of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

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