Breast Cancer | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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Three generation family supporting breast cancer patient at Miami Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer

About one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The disease is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The good news is: the majority of breast cancer patients are surviving the disease thanks to early detection and improved treatments.

At Miami Cancer Institute, you have access to the most advanced technologies and medications to treat your disease along with state-of-the-art diagnostic technology, care coordination, support services and genetic counseling and testing – all under one roof.

Our highly skilled oncologists, surgeons, plastic surgeons and radiation oncologists work together to create a treatment plan that is the most advanced and least invasive. And our specially trained support team guides you through your diagnosis, treatment and survivorship with compassion and exceptional, personalized care.

About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can be classified in two broad categories:

  • Noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer occurs when cancer cells remain in a specific location of the breast without spreading to the surrounding tissue, ducts or lobes.
  • Invasive (infiltrating) breast cancer occurs when cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph nodes.

There are two main types of breast cancer:

  • Ductal carcinoma – Tumors exist in the cells of the milk ducts. They can be invasive with the potential to spread or non-invasive, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). About one in five new breast cancer cases are DCIS, which usually is diagnosed at the early stages and is highly treatable.
  • Lobular carcinoma – Tumors exist in the lobules, or milk-producing glands. They can be invasive or non-invasive, also known as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). About one in 10 breast cancers are invasive lobular cancer.

Less common types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer, Paget disease of the nipple, phyllodes tumor, sarcoma of the breast, metaplastic carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, adenocystic carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, metaplastic carcinoma and angiosarcoma.

While breast cancer occurs mostly in women, the disease also can occur in men. A man’s lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. 

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Experts have identified several risk factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. These include:

  • Being female.
  • Increasing age.
  • Inherited gene mutations, such as BRCA genes.
  • Family history of breast cancer, especially women who have a mother, sister or daughter with breast or ovarian cancer.
  • Never having children.
  • Dense breast tissue, or more glandular and fibrous tissue, which can be attributed to age, menopausal status, pregnancy and genetics.   
  • Benign breast conditions, such as ductal hyperplasia, fibroadenoma, sclerosing adenosis, papillomatosis, radial scar, atypical ductal hyperplasia and atypical lobular hyperplasia.
  • Longer menstrual duration, due to starting menstruation early and/or entering menopause later, which increases exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
  • Previous chest radiation to treat another cancer.  
  • Use of oral contraceptives within the past 10 years. 
  • Use of hormone therapy after menopause
  • Lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, being overweight or obese and eating an unhealthy diet.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Mammograms have increased the number of breast cancers found early, before they cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • A new lump or mass in the breast.
  • Breast or nipple pain.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Redness, swelling, pealing, flaking or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
  • Nipple retraction.
  • Skin irritation or dimpling.
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone.

It’s important to discuss any changes in your breasts with your doctor.


To diagnose breast cancer, your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your health history, including lifestyle habits and family history. One or more of the following diagnostic tests may be conducted:

  • Digital mammography is the best screening tool to detect breast cancer. At Miami Cancer Institute, we use advanced digital technology and low-dose radiation for your safety. Our radiologists can manipulate the size, orientation, brightness and contrast of the images to enhance the breast evaluation. They also use computer-aided detection when reviewing a mammogram, which helps them detect cancer at earlier stages, when it is most treatable.
  • 3-D Mammography takes multiple images of breast tissue to recreate a 3-D picture, giving your doctor a clearer image of breast masses. Women with dense breast tissue may benefit from 3-D mammography.
  • Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps physicians evaluate the extent of a known breast cancer, screen high-risk patients and further evaluate areas of concern found by mammogram, ultrasound or during physical examination.
  • Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the breast.
  • Fine needle biopsy allows your physician to withdraw a small amount of fluid or tissue for analysis using a fine, hollow needle.
  • Core biopsy allows your physician to obtain a tissue sample for analysis using a wedge needle. Your doctor may conduct an ultrasound-guided biopsy or stereotactic biopsy, which uses mammography to visualize the abnormality.  
  • Blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC) and serum tumor markers, measure the amount of certain substances released into the blood by organs, tissues or tumor cells in the body.

Miami Cancer Institute’s comprehensive team of physicians, nurses and support staff specialize in breast health and use the latest treatments and newest medications to treat and manage your disease. We also offer participation in clinical research trials that may find new and better ways to treat cancer.

Our team offers the encouragement, support and individualized attention you need. And our survivorship program provides you with medical guidance and compassionate care well into the future. 

Your customized medical treatment plan may include one or more of the following therapies:


Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer, and our breast surgeons are among the most skilled in the world. There are three surgical options: 

  • Lumpectomy – removal of the tumor and any affected tissue, while the majority of the breast is conserved. Lumpectomy often is combined with radiation therapy.
  • Mastectomy – removal of one of both breasts. Depending on the nature of the cancer, you may have a total mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy or nipple-sparing mastectomy.
  • Breast reconstruction – reconstruction of the breast structure using implants or tissue from other parts of your body. Reconstructive surgery can be performed at the time of cancer surgery or at a later date.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. Miami Cancer Institute’s radiation oncology physicians are among the most experienced in the world, and we offer the most comprehensive radiology platforms available to treat breast cancer, including external beam radiation, brachytherapy and proton therapy.

Miami Cancer Institute is the only center of its kind in the region and one of only 14 in the United States to offer proton therapy. This advanced form of radiation treatment spares healthy tissue and eliminates many of the side effects of conventional radiation treatment.


Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells and control their growth. Chemotherapy may be administered before surgery to shrink a tumor, after surgery to ensure all cancer cells are destroyed or as the main course of treatment for cancer that has spread beyond the breast. Miami Cancer Institute offers the most effective chemotherapy options and delivery methods to treat breast cancer.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy in breast cancer treatment also is known as endocrine therapy. It uses medications that block the formation of estrogen, or block the receptors that estrogen stimulates. Hormone therapy is effective in breast cancers that require estrogen to grow. The therapy typically is combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with genes or proteins involved in tumor growth while avoiding damage to healthy cells. Targeted therapies are usually less likely than chemotherapy to harm normal, healthy cells.

Targeted therapies used in breast cancer include Herceptin – an antibody that works against HER2-neu positive breast cancers by blocking HER2 production and obstructin​g tumor growth.​