Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. Dr. Ball feels it is better for the patient to understand how breast cancer can develop.

Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. The genes are in each cell’s nucleus, which acts as the “control room” of each cell. Normally, the cells in our bodies replace themselves through an orderly process of cell growth: healthy new cells take over as old ones die out. But over time, mutations can “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” others in a cell. The changed cell gains the ability to keep dividing without control or order, producing more cells just like it and forming a tumor.

A tumor can be benign (not dangerous to health) or malignant (has the potential to be dangerous). Benign tumors are not considered cancerous: their cells are close to normal in appearance, they grow slowly, and they do not invade nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Left unchecked, malignant cells eventually can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

The term “breast cancer” refers to a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Usually breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less commonly, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast.

Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes, small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body. The breast cancer’s stage refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor.

Breast cancer is always caused by a genetic abnormality. However, only 5-10% of cancers are due to an abnormality inherited from your mother or father. About 90% of breast cancers are due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and the “wear and tear” of life in general.

There are steps every person can take to help the body stay as healthy as possible and lower the risk of breast cancer or a breast cancer recurrence (such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and exercising regularly.

Breast cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms.
• A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
• A change in the size or shape of the breast.
• A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
• A nipple turned inward into the breast.
• Fluid, other than breast milk, from the nipple, especially if it's bloody.
• Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin that is around the nipple).
• Dimples in the breasts that look like the skin of an orange, called peau d’orange.

For more information on breast care, breast cancer, breast cancer, breast biopsy in general, please visit HYPERLINK "", or HYPERLINK "" . For more information on breast cancer, biopsies, and surgical options available in the Natchitoches, Louisiana area, call William A.Ball, Jr., M.D. F.A.C.S. at Cane River Surgery Center.

Mammograms are x-ray images of the breast used primarily to detect breast cancer. Screening mammograms are encouraged even for women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease, as a preventative measure. Diagnostic mammograms are used to identify breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been detected. Cane River Surgery Center, one of the most qualified breast cancer surgical centers in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Diagnostic mammograms are used to evaluate changes found during a screening mammogram, and to view breast tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram due to special circumstances, such as the presence of breast implants.

Women age 40 and older should have mammograms every one to two years. Women who are at higher than average risk of developing breast cancer should talk with their health care providers about whether to have mammograms before age 40 and how often is necessary. 

Breast Self-examinations
A breast exam is a self-inspection of your breasts. During a breast exam, you use your eyes and hands to observe the appearance and feel of your breasts; establishing what is a normal feel and appearance.

Breast awareness is the key to prevention. Being familiar with the normal consistency of your breasts and the underlying tissue, as well as inspecting your breasts for new changes that may signify potential breast problems, can save your life.

The early detection of a breast lump, no matter how small, increases the chance for a cure if the lump is diagnosed as cancerous. Without a tactile memory from having done frequent breast exams, you might not notice a difference in your breast. Studies of women undergoing breast cancer surgery found that approximately 40% of breast cancers were discovered through self-exam. Detecting such a change should prompt you to contact Dr. William A. Ball, Jr., M.D., breast cancer surgeon in Natchitoches, Louisiana.