Symptoms of breast cancer can vary. Early breast cancer usually does not cause pain and may have no symptoms at all. Some breast cancers never cause symptoms or other indications of a problem. The most common symptoms include:
• A lump or mass in or near the breast
• Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
• Change in breast size, shape, skin texture or color
• Skin redness
• Nipple discharge, erosion, inversion or tenderness
• Dimpling or puckering
Tests used to diagnose and monitor patients with breast cancer may include:
• Breast exam: A doctor examines both breasts to feel for any lumps or abnormalities.
• Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast is used to identify a breast lump.
• Breast ultrasound: Sound waves are used to produce images of structures deep within the body. Breast ultrasounds show whether the lump is solid or fluid-filled.
• Breast biopsy: A biopsy is used to remove a sample of breast cells to determine whether or not the cells are cancerous.
• Breast MRI: Magnetic and radio waves are used to produce images of the breast. An MRI helps better identify the breast lump or evaluate an abnormal change on a mammogram.
• Sentinel lymph node biopsy: A procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is removed and examined under a microscope to determine whether cancer cells are present. It is used to see if the cancer has spread.
Breast cancer stages range from 0 to IV. Staging helps guide future treatment and follow-up. Breast cancer stages range from zero to IV. A zero-stage cancer is very small and noninvasive. A higher staging number indicates more advanced cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. Stage IV breast cancer, also called metastatic breast cancer, means that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
Proton therapy is a relatively newer cancer treatment for early stage breast cancer, but it has already shown remarkable promise and advantages over conventional therapy in the treatment of breast cancer. Proton radiation therapy’s accuracy and low impact make it a non-invasive and low-risk option for breast cancer treatment.
What is Proton Therapy for Breast Cancer?
Proton therapy for breast cancer is a noninvasive, low impact treatment option that is used to destroy cancerous cells or tissue. Proton radiation treatment is extremely precise and therefore more effective at targeting cancerous cells without causing damage to surrounding breast tissue.
Proton therapy is not a substitute for a lumpectomy. Rather, it is used as an alternative to traditional radiation therapy. After the lumpectomy has been completed, a breast cancer patient would receive 10 days of proton treatment instead of five to six weeks of traditional radiation therapy.
Although proton radiation treatment is relatively new, clinical trials for breast cancer have already shown excellent signs of disease control and minimal side effects compared with traditional forms of treatment.
Proton therapy also offers a number of other compelling benefits:
• Treatment is noninvasive and painless
• Proton therapy is effective for treating early stage breast cancer
• Treatment offers quicker recovery times with minimal side effects
• Causes less cosmetic damage compared with the burn marks caused by regular radiation
• It is more accurate and precise than other kinds of radiation
• Treatment is provided in an outpatient setting
• Proton radiation has little to no impact on patient energy level