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Aside from avoidable risk factors, there are some genetic factors that can increase your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. The gene mutations BRCA1, BRCA2 have been identified as a related factor in cancer development. Individuals with these gene mutations sometimes develop breast cancer before age 50, have a family history with breast and/or ovarian cancer, and have an increased incident of tumors in other organs. These mutations are especially relevant to Ashkenazi Jews, and screening is strongly suggested for those who have a high chance of Hereditary Breast Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC). As many as one in forty Ashkenazi Jews has one of these mutations, so if you are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, it is especially important to conduct the monthly self exam, and other tests if your family has had a history with cancer.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are tumor suppressors- helping to control cell growth and death. Our bodies battle cancer every day, and these genes help to keep abnormal growth in check. For those with the mutation, there is a higher risk for abnormal cell growth. Still, other mutations must occur before a cell becomes cancerous. While having these mutations can indicate a higher risk for cancer development, it does not guarantee that one will develop cancer.

Breast Mass Diagnosis
During your clinical breast exam, if a mass is found, more exams are needed to determine whether the mass is likely to be benign. Most lumps in the breast are found to be harmless, they can be scar tissue, hardened silicone, necrotic fat, or a rib bone compressing the breast. An ultrasound or mammogram can help see if the mass has the characteristics of a benign or malignant growth. However, imaging will not fully determine whether the lump is harmless or not. If a mass is found, Dr. Ayalon will refer you to a general surgeon who can conduct a biopsy.

Cancer Treatment
If your biopsy shows that the mass is cancer, there are several treatment options that Dr. Ayalon can go over with you. Being diagnosed with cancer can be a frightening ordeal, but Dr. Ayalon will help you through treatment every step of the way. Together you and Dr. Ayalon will create a plan for treatment tailored to your needs, the stage of cancer, and your comfort. The treatment will aim to target the cancer cells in multiple ways and prevent future reoccurrences.

The most common plan for treatment of breast cancer starts with surgery to remove the tumor. If reconstruction is an issue this can be discussed with the surgeon that Dr. Ayalon refers you to. Removal of the mass may not be enough to prevent more tumors from growing if the cancer has metastasized, or started to spread to other areas.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and lastly hormonal therapy are often used to target these cancerous cells that are in other parts of the body away from the site of the tumor. Using some combination of these treatments, cancerous cells are eliminated before they multiply and cause problems in other parts of the body.

It is helpful to keep in mind that everyone is different, however, and you may not need all these forms of therapy. There are many other combinations of these treatment options, length of treatment, and dosages, and Dr. Ayalon can help you create a plan that is most appropriate for your specific case, ensuring you get the treatment that is most effective. If you have questions pleae contact Dr. Ayalon or call us at (818) 654-9312.

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