Multifocal Breast Cancer Information
No one likes to think about breast cancer, but it is often an unavoidable topic in life. If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis of multifocal breast cancer, we hope this will enlighten you all along your unique journey with this disease.
Multifocal vs Multicentric Breast Cancer
Multifocal breast cancer is a form that includes more than one tumor in the same breast and in the same quadrant. The additional tumors arise from the original tumor.
This type of breast cancer is not necessarily more aggressive than a single tumor, but there seems to be a higher likelihood for the cancer to spread to the lymph nodes. The prognosis is also less positive.
Multifocal breast cancer can be either invasive or non-invasive. Non-invasive cancers stay in the milk ducts or milk producing glands, whereas invasive cancers grow into other parts of the body and can also make their way to other organs.
Survival rates are no different for multifocal breast cancers as single tumor cancers.
Multicentric breast cancer is similar since there is more than one tumor, but these are located in different parts of the breast and in different quadrants.
Diagnosis of Multifocal Breast Cancers
There are five possible steps to diagnose if someone has multifocal breast cancer.
- The first step is a breast exam.
- A mammogram will use X-rays to detect changes in the breast.
- An MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images the breast’s inner tissues. This particular imaging test is the most accurate at finding multifocal breast cancers.
- An ultrasound provides detailed images in real time.
- A biopsy of the tumor is then sent to a lab for analysis. The biopsy is the only way to know for sure if there is cancer present.
Staging of Multifocal Breast Cancer and Treatment
There are 5 stages of cancer. They range from 0 to 5 based on if and how far the cancer has spread.
0 is noninvasive and not spreading with a 100% five year survival rate. Stage 2 has a 93% survival rate, and Stage 3 has a 72% survival rate. Stage IV is metastatic cancer, meaning that the disease has made its way to other areas of the body, leaving patients with a 22% five year survival rate. Survival rate factors also include age, the size of the tumor, general health, how the cancer responds to treatment, and if the cancer has spread elsewhere.
If cancer is found, the only way to determine the stage of the cancer is by studying the characteristics of the main tumor and other tumors if they are found elsewhere. Treatment plans and prognosis all depend on the stage of the multifocal breast cancer.
The next step that your radiologist takes to determine the breast cancer’s stage is to see if the lymph nodes have been affected and, if so, how many. Lastly, they will look at whether or not the cancer has metastasized. Normally the stage is determined by the largest tumor, but some believe this method is inaccurate since it does not take into account the number of tumors.
Treatment is determined based on the stage of the cancer. A lumpectomy will be performed if the cancer has not spread. All cancer cells will be removed while preserving as much healthy breast as possible. Next, radiation will remove any lasting cancer cells. Chemotherapy is another option as this point. Lastly, a mastectomy may be recommended which removes the entire breast with or without lymph nodes.
After treatment, it is possible for some cancers to come back in the same place or a new place in the body. There is a difference of opinion about whether multifocal breast cancer has a higher rate of recurrence vs a single tumor. Not all of the research agrees.
It is important to be proactive through any diagnosis or treatment recommendations for multifocal breast cancer. See Gainesville Women’s Center for Radiology with questions or concerns about a cancer diagnosis. We are here to help and provide support.