Breast Cancer Facts

 The Breast Clinic



What every Woman Needs to Know



 Facts About Breast Cancer

  • Breast Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women between the ages of 15 and 54 and second in those aged 55 – 74.
  • In the U.S., one in eight women will get breast cancer. It has become so common that centers have sprung up which focus on breast reconstruction exclusively.
  • The incidence is smaller in Asia but increasing as countries adopt western diets and behavior.


  • In the U.S., one in eight women will get breast cancer. It has become so common that centers have sprung up which focus on breast reconstruction exclusively.
  • The incidence is smaller in Asia but increasing as countries adopt western diets and behavior.



 Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • (Most Important!) Family history: If any female in your family tree (Grandma, Mama, Auntie, or Sister) has had breast cancer, you are at significantly increased risk.
  • Other risk factors include: Early menarche (younger than 12), late first pregnancy (after age 30), late menopause (after age 55), smoking, use of birth control pills in the last 10 years, daily alcohol consumption, and atypical hyperplasia (a biopsy finding). (The absense of Tamoxifen receptors (another histological finding) worsens the prognosis.)

 The Good News

  • Breast cancer has a 5 year survival rate of 96% if it is detected early and treated properly.
  • Early detection is the key!
  • If the cancer has spread and is in an advanced stage when detected, the five year survival rate is very low.
  • Early detection is the key!
  • Early detection is the key!
  • Early detection…
  • This lovely Khmer lady of 38 didn’t detect and treat her cancer in time. She has daughters aged 8 and 10 and has been told she has only six months to live.

 How to Detect and Treat Breast Cancer Early

  • You should perform monthly self examinations (we will show you how to do this at The Breast Clinic).
  • You should get yearly mammograms after age 40
  • (Very important!) Make An Appointment to see your doctor immediately if you feel a suspicious lump in your breast or a nodule in your axilla. Don’t panic and don’t go into denial. Just go see your doctor. OK?

 More Good News

  • Over 90% of breast lumps are not cancerous but benign conditions such as fibrocystic disease of the breast (FCDB)

So don’t panic! Just come in and let us check it for you!

 Frequently Asked Questions

 FAQ 1: How will I know if my lump is cancer?

Ans.: Dr. Sheftall will send you for a mammogram. If the mammogram looks suspicious, Dr. Sheftall will have to do a biopsy of the lump. He will send the specimen to a pathologist to examine. The pathologist will send a report to Dr. Sheftall who will schedule an appointment with you to discuss the results. BreastCancerFacts-09

FAQ 2: What happens if it’s benign? What exactly does “benign” mean anyway?

 Ans.: The word “benign” has the same meaning among doctors as it has in ordinary English conversation. It means the tumor is not threatening and won’t hurt you. If your lump is benign, you don’t have to do anything more.

 FAQ 3: What happens if I have cancer?

 Ans.: We begin treatment. Which treatment you receive depends on the pathological stage of your cancer (this depends on its size and whether there are nodal or distant metastases (i.e. whether it has spread to other parts of your body). Treatment may consist of lumpectomy and radiation, modified radical mastectomy, chemotherapy, and/or treatment with a drug called Tamoxifen.

 FAQ 4: How does the doctor know if my cancer has spread?

 Ans.: He will perform a thorough history and  physical exam and then will perform tests on you. For example if you have back pain, this may mean that your cancer has spread to the bones in your back. Your doctor will then order a bone scan for confirmation. If he feels some hard nodules under your arm, the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes located there. If he performs the modified radical mastectomy, the pathologist will examine the specimen and tell us if the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes.

 FAQ 5: What is a modified radical mastectomy? Are they going to cut off my breast?

Ans.: Unfortunately, at this point it is a matter of life and death. To save your life, your breast and the lymph nodes under your arm will be removed.


 FAQ 6: Who performs the mastectomy?

Ans.: A mastectomy is performed by a general surgeon. Dr. Sheftall was trained  as a general surgeon before he went on to plastic surgery. AMC physician Dr. Steve Islefo is also a general surgeon. They have alot of experience with this operation and will perform it safely for you.  BreastCancerFacts-142

FAQ 7: What happens then?

Ans.: If you wish, Dr. Sheftall will make a new breast for you using tissue expanders and an implant but this is not required. It’s up to you. BreastCancerFacts-15
Dr. Sheftall can begin reconstruction during the mastectomy. That’s called “immediate reconstruction”. He simply leaves the expander in as he is closing the mastectomy incision. Expansion will begin as soon as the wound is fully healed. BreastCancerFacts-16

 FAQ 8: Won’t the reconstructed breast look different than my other breast?

 Ans.: Yes. It will appear more pert (less sagging). It will be rounder and more youthful in appearance). Most women elect to have the other breast modified to better match the one that has been reconstructed. Again, it is entirely up to you.
This woman has had a mastectomy and is well underway with her expansion. Soon, an implant will be inserted in place of  the expander. Then, a new nipple/areola complex will be made for her. BreastCancerFacts-18

 FAQ 9: If I get pregnant again, can I nurse my new baby?

 Ans.: Not with the reconstructed breast (because the milk-producing breast tissue was removed during the mastectomy). But you can nurse your baby with the noncancerous breast (the one that didn’t get removed). If that breast was lifted, augmented, or reduced to match the reconstructed one, don’t worry- breast feeding will not be affected.

  Thank you and Remember…

Early detection is the key!