The words, “you have breast cancer,” is possibly one of the most devastating statements an individual could image hearing from his or her physician even though breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. The diagnosis bears a significant amount of anxiety and fear in regards to treatment and overall survival. However, research has increased healthcare professionals' knowledge on the benefits of early screening, diagnosis, and treatments, which has steadily reduced the death rate from breast cancer over the past 20 years. Physicians are better able to predict how particular breast cancers will react to treatment; therefore, they are able to choose more effective treatment options based on these findings. The goal of this article is to highlight the incidence, staging and diagnostic studies, types, treatments, and follow-up of breast cancer dispelling some of the common societal stigmas and unfounded fears surrounding this diagnosis.
Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Ely)
Systems Oncology Quality Program Coordinator, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Vioral)
Address correspondence to Anna N. Vioral, MSN, RN, OCN, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Allegheny General Hospital, 320 East North Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (e-mail: AVIORAL@wpahs.org).