Breast Cancer Care at Norton Cancer Institute

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Breast Cancer Care

Breast cancer develops when cells in the breast multiply abnormally and form masses of cells, called tumors. There are different types of breast cancer, as well as various treatments. This kind of cancer usually affects women over the age of 50, however it also can affect younger women and men. Treatment can involve medication, surgery or radiation.

Norton Cancer Institute is a leading provider of breast cancer care in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Our breast cancer specialists are board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists in their field. They’re at the forefront of developing innovative approaches to getting patients back to living their lives.

Understanding Breast Cancer

There are different kinds of cancer. It’s important to know what kind of cancer you have so your oncologist (on-COL’-uh-jist) can create a custom care plan for you. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in cancer.

Earlier detection means catching cancer when it’s easier to treat. Early diagnosis of breast cancer often can mean better health outcomes for you. That’s why you should have regular breast health checkups with your doctor.

These are the most common types of breast cancer in the United States:

  • Invasive (infiltrating) ductal carcinoma (IDC) starts in your milk ducts (the tubes milk comes out of when you are breastfeeding) and spreads to nearby breast tissue.
  • Lobular breast cancer starts in the milk-producing glands (lobules) in your breast and often spreads to nearby breast tissue.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) starts in your milk ducts, similar to IDC. The difference is DCIS doesn’t spread beyond your milk ducts.

Less-common breast cancer types include:

  • Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC): This invasive cancer is aggressive and spreads more quickly than other breast cancers. 
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC): This rare, fast-growing cancer looks like a rash on your breast. IBC is rare in the United States.
  • Paget disease of the breast: This rare cancer affects the skin of your nipple and may look like a rash. Less than 4% of all breast cancers are Paget disease of the breast.

There are subtypes of these cancers, which depend on what kind of hormone the cancer cell attracts or attaches to, such as the hormones progesterone or estrogen. Your doctors will do tests to see exactly what kind of caner you have so they can treat your disease most effectively.

Risk factors for breast cancer include family history of breast cancer, as well as several lifestyle choices. Treatment for breast cancer can include medication (such as chemotherapy), surgery, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and radiation.

Complications of Breast Cancer

The most common complication of breast cancer is metastatic (met-uh-STAT’-ik) breast cancer. This is when breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body — it can go anywhere in the body, but the most common areas are the bones, liver, lungs and brain. This is also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer. It is estimated that about 20% to 30% of people with early-stage breast cancer will develop Stage 4 or advanced breast cancer.

There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, although it can be treated in many of the same ways as breast cancer. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer includes managing your symptoms and controlling the cancer as much as possible. It is important to be open with your health care team about your goals, how you are feeling and your needs.

Breast Cancer Survival Rates and Outlook

The American Cancer Society uses information provided by the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database to generate breast cancer survival statistics. SEER groups cancer by how far it has spread in the body — local, regional and distant — instead of numbered stages.

According to the SEER database

StageFive-year survival rates
All SEER stages combined91%

Survival rates for breast cancer vary based on:

  • Stage of cancer when detected
  • Risk factors
  • Type of cancer
  • Your age and general health
  • Health history and family history of breast cancer and other cancers
  • The overall effectiveness of the treatment plan

A 2022 American Cancer Society report found that the death rate for breast cancer in the United States among women dropped 43% between 1989 when it peaked and 2020. During the last decade, death rates declined for women of all racial/ethnic groups across the U.S. except for American Indians/Alaska Natives, who had stable rates. However, Black women are still more likely to die from breast cancer than white women across the U.S. even though Black women have lower breast cancer incidence rates.

When you look at survival rates, try to remember that they’re just estimates based on large groups of people and combined data. A survival rate doesn’t indicate how long someone will live with metastatic breast cancer. Your health care providers will be the best resources for what you can expect as a breast cancer patient.

The American Cancer Society recommends breast cancer screenings begin at age 45, with the option to start at 40 if there is a reason such as family history of breast cancer. Breast cancer often has no symptoms, so it is key to go to your yearly checkups and get annual breast cancer screenings.

Norton Cancer Institute’s Approach to Breast Cancer Care

Louisville Woman Recounts Her Breast Cancer Surgery From Small Lump to Fast and Compassionate Care

Throughout her treatment, Heather Kleisner felt the embrace of care, support and hope from everyone she encountered at Norton Cancer Institute.

At Norton Cancer Institute, our team of specialists works together to provide compassionate and comprehensive care for patients with breast cancer. We are committed to providing every patient with the best and most personalized treatment options available, as well as resources and support.

What else sets us apart as a comprehensive cancer center?

  • The multidisciplinary Norton Cancer Institute Breast Clinic allows you to see multiple specialists in the same day. This setting offers the convenience of fewer appointments, thereby reducing travel and time in beginning the next steps in your care path.
  • Norton Cancer Institute patient navigator supports you along your journey, every step of the way.
  • At Norton Specialty Pharmacy, you will receive regular consultations on your medications and treatment plan We make sure you get prescriptions quickly and accurately. Our specialty pharmacists collaborate closely with your oncology team.
  • Leading-edge treatments, including radiation, surgeries, chemotherapy and hormone therapy, can be used alone or in combination.
  • Genomics, which looks at the genetic makeup of your specific type of cancer, can help your physician tailor a care plan just for you.
  • Hormone therapy is used to block tumor growth with hormones.    
  • Many types of breast reconstruction surgery are available to fit your specific situation.
  • Participation in clinical research trials can give you access to even more innovative techniques for treating cancer.
  • DigniCap cooling technology can help save your hair during chemotherapy.
  • Norton Cancer Institute Resource Centers offer nutritional counseling, complementary therapies, yoga, support group meetings and more for cancer patients and their caregivers.
  • The Norton Cancer Institute Sexual Health Program provides private, confidential consulting and other resources for breast cancer patients.

Norton Cancer Institute has a patient-centered approach that sees you as a whole person, not just a diagnosis. Our breast cancer specialists work with you to gather and evaluate all test results, health history and other information to be sure that we get a clear understanding of your cancer type and characteristics. Your breast cancer team develops a targeted treatment plan designed to maximize your long-term health while minimizing side effects.

The Breast Oncology Team
Breast Surgery Team

Why Choose Norton Cancer Institute

More patients in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Cancer Institute than any other provider in the area. We provide compassionate care for the whole person, not just the cancer.

Our Norton Cancer Institute oncologists are also researchers and principal investigators, offering patients sophisticated experience in the latest treatments and access to more than 200 clinical trials.

  • Access to more than 100 specialists, including board-certified and fellowship-trained oncologists
  • Multidisciplinary setting, meaning you get the benefit of opinions from multiple specialists across Norton Healthcare and often can schedule appointments for the same day in the same location
  • Immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapy, genetic therapies tailored to combat the unique genetic makeup of your cancer and the latest in surgical treatments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • State-of-the-art Norton Cancer Institute Genomics Lab offering highly specialized testing that makes it possible to tailor advanced treatments based on a tumor’s specific genetic composition
  • Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy for minimally invasive lung biopsies that can reach more parts of the lung without major surgery
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance accepted
  • At Norton Specialty Pharmacy, patients receive regular consultations on their medications and treatment plan, making sure they get their prescriptions quickly and accurately. Our specialty pharmacists collaborate closely with your oncology team.
  • Use your free Norton MyChart account to communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions, get on the wait list for an earlier appointment and more anytime from a mobile device or computer

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