Breast Cancer Treatment at Tampa General Hospital

Breast cancer refers to the group of cancers that originate in the tissues of the breast. In some cases, this cancer can grow, or metastasize, beyond the original location to affect other areas of the body. Like other forms of cancer, breast cancers develop when one cell with abnormal DNA doesn’t follow the typical cycle of cell life and death, but rather lives indefinitely, reproducing more cells with similarly damaged DNA. The resulting mass of cells is deemed cancerous if it invades other tissues (some breast tumors are benign, or not cancerous).

In some cases, it appears that genetics play a role in the development of breast cancer. That means that people who have a family history of cancer and non-cancerous diseases of the breast may be at a higher risk for developing breast cancers. Some other risk factors include:

  • Aging (women over 60 are more likely to be diagnosed, on average)
  • Being female
  • Experiencing radiation exposure, particularly radiation treatments of the chest
  • Being obese
  • Having a personal history of breast cancer
  • Using hormone replacement therapy
  • Starting menstruation at an early age (before 12)
  • Drinking alcohol in excess

Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean that someone will develop breast cancer – it only increases the likelihood. In many cases, breast cancer patients have no known risk factors other than being female.

The symptoms of breast cancer vary depending on the specific type and location of the cancer, but some general warning signs include changes to the skin over the breast (such as thickening, flaking, dimpling, redness, and changes in texture); the presence of a lump in the breast or armpit that feels different than surrounding tissue; and a change to the overall appearance, size, or shape of the breast. Other symptoms include a recently inverted nipple and bloody discharge from the nipple. In short, any abnormal changes to the breasts should be investigated by a physician right away. A medical professional can use several tests to determine if a patient’s symptoms are due to breast cancer or another cause.

Tampa General Hospital treats people who have all types of cancer, including all kinds and stages of breast cancer. With a team approach which includes cancer specialists, including surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and many others, as well as state-of-the-art technology, we can provide truly comprehensive cancer care. Our specialists can develop a specific treatment plan customized to each patient, reflecting the location and severity of the cancer as well as the patient’s personal needs and preferences. For a physician referral or to make an appointment, please call (813) 844-2200.