Breast cancer FAQ

Q. What are the signs of breast cancer?
Often there are no overt signs or warning symptoms, and the signs of breast cancer can vary depending on the person. It is good to be aware of your own body and changes in it. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your primary care physician for further evaluation:

  • Lump or hard knot in the tissue different from your normal breast tissue.
  • Change in color or feel of the skin: swelling, thickening, tenderness, warming, darkening, dimpling, reddening or warming sensation.
  • Change in breast size or shape outside of usual changes in your cycle.
  • Scaly, itchy or sore nipple.
  • Sudden nipple discharge.

Q. What are some key statistics about breast cancer?

  • According to the NCI, there is an 89.2 percent survival rate after five years for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Approximately 12.3 percent of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point of their lives.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Q. How do I decide which treatment option is best for me?
Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center (WVCI) has a team of experts ready to talk to you all about your options. Although there are a few treatment options available – surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy – each individual is different, so no treatment plan is the same. Your physician will recommend a treatment plan depending on a number of factors, such as type and location of cancer, the stage of the cancer at detection and your age and general health. It’s important for you to learn the facts, know your options and choose a treatment that’s best for you.

Q. What are the side effects of treatment?
The side effects vary depending on the individual, the drug and drug doses. A few common side effects of chemotherapy are: nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, anemia, mouth sores, taste and smell changes and menopause. Please discuss any concerns about the side effects of your treatment with your physician. You can also read about alternative therapies that might help manage the side effects of traditional therapies.

Q. What is a clinical trial? Should I participate in one?
At WVCI, patients have access to experimental innovative therapies through clinical trials because of our partnership with The US Oncology Network. These clinical trials provide our patients access to treatments otherwise unavailable. If you are interested in participating in a trial, talk to your oncologist.