Breast Cancer Q&A

VIDEO | 16:00

Medical oncologist Larry Norton says there is overwhelming evidence that regular breast cancer screening with mammography saves lives. When performed properly, mammography can find breast tumors that may not be detected with a breast exam alone, resulting in earlier and less-invasive treatments.

Male breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 1,500 men in the United States each year, says medical oncologist Clifford Hudis. Memorial Sloan Kettering is part of an international consortium to study this rare disease; men should see a doctor if they have symptoms such as a lump in the chest or discharge from a nipple.

Breast cancer expert Elizabeth Comen says that many women with breast cancer try nutritional supplements as a way to take control of their disease. But because these products are unregulated, their value and quality are unknown, and they may interact with treatment. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Integrative Medicine Service offers advice about which products can be safely incorporated into a patient’s treatment plan. In addition, patients are advised to exercise and adhere to a diet that is low in animal fats.

Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering use a diagnostic test called OncotypeDX® in women with small, estrogen-dependent tumors that have not spread to the lymph nodes to identify specific genes that may be involved in tumor growth. This information helps doctors determine the best treatment approach for each woman.

Dr. Norton says this is an exciting time in breast cancer research. Increasingly, researchers are focusing on the genetic and biologic factors that contribute to breast cancer and cause it to spread. The Evelyn Lauder Founder’s Fund is a worldwide consortium devoted to identifying molecular causes of cancer metastasis. This information could lead to better diagnostic tools, such as a blood test to detect which cancers are more likely to spread. Patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering can benefit from the depth of experience and interdisciplinary approach of our breast cancer team. They can also take part in a clinical trial, which could lead to better treatments for breast cancer.