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Navigating your way through a breast cancer diagnosis

It's important to act quickly following a breast cancer diagnosis. Review your options with a trusted physician and your family.

Being told you have cancer is no easy thing. Whether the disease is found in its early or late stages, there is a certain amount of grieving that comes with almost all diagnoses. Once you are ready to take action, it is wise to review your treatment options.

To give yourself the best chance of beating the disease, there are certain steps you must take:

  • Diagnostic testing: Unless your cancer was first detected via ultrasound or MRI, you would need to undergo further testing to determine the severity of your disease. This is crucial because these sorts of tests provide greater detail than a mammogram.
  • Biopsy: Once a doctor knows exactly where your cancer is and how severe the disease might be, he or she will need to biopsy the area to confirm the tumor is, in fact, cancerous. This will confirm your diagnosis and let the doctor know exactly how he or she should proceed.
  • Lumpectomy or partial/full mastectomy: Depending on the specific details surrounding your cancer, your doctor may recommend a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy to conserve the breast tissue. If the disease has spread too far, the surgeon may have to take the entire breast to ensure your safety – a full mastectomy. There are a few different types of full mastectomy procedures, including:

  1. Total mastectomy, which removes both the breast tissue and nipple.
  2. Skin-sparing mastectomy, which leaves the breast's skin – except the nipple – intact.
  3. Modified radical mastectomy, which removes the underarm lymph nodes in addition to all the breast tissue.
  4. Radical mastectomy, which takes the breast tissue, underarm lymph nodes, and underlying chest muscle.

No matter what type of surgery your situation calls for, it is vital to act quickly in the wake of a breast cancer diagnosis. Review your options with your doctor, your family, and, perhaps most importantly, yourself. Make the choice that is right for you and your health.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to our viewers' health and well-being, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we'll bring you information about the "Cause of the Month," including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.