Breast cancer refers to when cancer forms somewhere in breast tissue, most commonly beginning in the lining of the milk ducts. Breast cancer can also originate in the milk glands, called lobules, and is considered to be invasive when the cancer spreads to surrounding healthy tissue from where it first began. With more than 200,000 new cases diagnosed in 2013 alone, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. Men can also have breast cancer, but it is highly unusual and only 2,240 men were diagnosed with the disease in 2013.
Certain lifestyle choices and hereditary factors can raise women??s risk of developing breast cancer. In particular, women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have a significantly higher likelihood of breast and ovarian cancer. Women now have the choice of being tested for these genes so that they can take preventative measures. Starting your period before age 12 or menopause after age 55 can also raise women??s risk and the likelihood of breast cancer is naturally higher as women age. While these risk factors are out of people??s control, women can control other factors such as weight, alcohol consumption, and use of birth control.
Intraoperative radiation therapy gives women a full dose of radiation therapy at the same time as their lumpectomy surgery. Before patients had to undergo a lumpectomy and then six weeks of radiation, they can now have it all done within a two and a half hour operation. Intraoperative radiation therapy is more convenient for patients and ensures that they receive all of the necessary treatment in order to prevent recurrence. Completing all of the treatment in one procedure prevents women from neglecting to follow through with the radiation treatments because of time, money, distance and access to a treatment facility. Intraoperative radiation therapy also has fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy including redness, rashes, irritation, fatigue, swelling, tissue stiffness, and scarring.