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Chapter 8 - Pathologies (Detailed)

Terms in this set (27)

Malignant tumor of the breast (arising from milk glands and ducts). The most common type of breast cancer is invasive ductal carcinoma. Other types are lobular and medullary carcinomas.

Breast cancer spreads first to lymph nodes in the axilla (armpit) adjacent to the affected breast and then to the skin and chest wall. From the lymph nodes it also may metastasize to other body organs, including bone, liver, lung, and brain. The diagnosis is first established by biopsy, either needle core or needle aspiration or surgical removal of a specimen.

For small primary tumors, the lump with immediately surrounding tissue can be removed (lumpectomy). To determine whether the tumor has spread to lymph nodes, a sentinel node biopsy (SNB) is performed. For this procedure, a blue dye or a radioisotope is injected into the tumor site and tracks to the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. By visualizing the path of the dye or radioactivity, it is possible to identify lymph nodes most likely to contain tumor. These lymph nodes, the sentinel nodes, are removed first, and if tissue studies give negative results, the procedure can be stopped at this point. After lumpectomy, radiation therapy to the breast and to any involved lymph nodes then follows, to kill remaining tumor cells.
An alternative surgical procedure is mastectomy, which is a removal of the breast. After either lumpectomy or mastectomy if lymph nodes are involved with cancer, chemotherapy is given to prevent recurrence of the tumor.

Some tumors grow with the presence of estrogen, and there are drugs that block the effects of estrogen.