Ray Sheppard Jr., MD
General Surgery and Advanced Robotic Surgery located in Huntsville, AL & Madison, AL
Invasive breast cancer strikes one in eight women in the United States and more than a quarter million new diagnoses were made in 2018. Thanks to early detection and intervention, breast cancer survival rates are on the rise. As a general surgeon, Ray Sheppard, MD, is doing his part through comprehensive biopsies and cancer-removal procedures, such as lumpectomies or mastectomies. If you’re in Madison or Huntsville, Alabama, and you’d like expert diagnosis and treatment of your breast cancer, call or set up an appointment at Ray Sheppard, MD General Surgery using the online booking tool.
Breast Cancer Surgery Q & A
What is breast cancer?
Cancer is an insidious disease that can attack almost every cell in the human body. What this means when it comes to breast cancer is that there are several different types of the disease. The most common forms of breast cancer are ones that start in your milk ducts or milk-producing glands.
While the exact cause of breast cancer is not known, genetics, lifestyle, age, gender, and family history appear to play strong roles in whether or not you develop the disease. While breast cancer most often strikes women, men can also fall victim, though in much smaller numbers -- about 2,500 diagnosed each year in the United States.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
The first line of defense when it comes to breast cancer is preventive screening. You and your doctor come up with an appropriate schedule based on your risk factors, but biannual or annual mammograms are typically recommended, depending upon your age.
If your results turn up something that needs to be studied further, the next step is a biopsy, which is where Dr. Sheppard comes in. As a general surgeon, he has the experience necessary to perform these important screening procedures, which typically fall into several categories:
This procedure is used mostly on fluid-filled lumps or cysts. Dr. Sheppard uses a thin needle guided by ultrasound to draw out a sample of the fluid. Often the lump or cyst collapses as the fluid is removed.
If you have an abnormal area in your mammogram that can’t be felt by your doctor, Dr. Sheppard uses X-ray guidance from two angles to take a sample of the suspicious tissue. Again, he performs this procedure on an outpatient basis.
Surgical breast biopsy
Dr. Sheppard makes an incision, then removes tissue from your breast for examination under a microscope. IV anesthesia is typically used for this procedure, which can be performed in a hospital, but usually on an outpatient basis.
It’s worth noting that 80% of patients who have a biopsy do not have cancer.
How is breast cancer treated?
If you receive the unfortunate diagnosis of breast cancer, Dr. Sheppard works with your oncology team to come up with the best surgical plan, which may include:
In this breast-conserving surgery, Dr. Sheppard only takes out the tissue that’s affected by cancer. He may also remove some surrounding tissue.
If you opt for a mastectomy, Dr. Sheppard removes all of your breast tissue in an attempt to fully eradicate the disease.
To learn more about breast cancer surgery, call Ray Sheppard, MD, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.