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Business Structure Evaluation Process Updates

We're currently conducting an evaluation of Lee Health's business structure. Explore all available documents and dive deeper into the process by learning more here. Lee Health’s Board of Directors invites you to a public hearing, set for Thursday, April 25th in the Community Room at Gulf Coast Medical Center, to discuss the ongoing evaluation of converting the health system to a community-focused nonprofit structure. Learn more details here.

Breast Cancer

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer happens when cells in our chest grow uncontrollably. It’s a disease that’s personal to Southwest Floridians because of who it targets. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. Here you’ll find educational, medical, and awareness resources for people diagnosed with breast cancer in our community. Our resources are accessible and conveniently located for residents from Cape Coral, Naples, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, and Bonita Springs.

TAKE ASSESSMENT NOW

The National Cancer Institute has developed a free risk assessment tool that allows women to discuss their own personal risk factors of developing breast cancer with their physician. Take the risk assessment today to better understand your chance.

More About the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

This tool may not provide precise risk assessment for women with a medical history of breast cancer, DCIS, or LCIS. For those with known mutations in genes like BRCA1 or BRCA2, or other hereditary syndromes linked to increased breast cancer risks, alternative tools may offer better accuracy.

Quick Points about the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool:

  • While this tool can estimate a patient's risk accurately, it cannot predict precisely who will develop breast cancer. See Other Risk Assessment Tools for more information.
  • It's worth noting that some women with higher risk estimates may never develop breast cancer, while others with lower estimates may be diagnosed.
  • Designed primarily for healthcare professionals, it's advised that non-professionals print their results and discuss them with their provider.
  • The answers provided help estimate the absolute risk of developing invasive breast cancer over the next 5 years and up to age 90 (lifetime risk). Factors considered include the patient's personal medical and reproductive history, as well as the breast cancer history among their first-degree relatives. Additionally, the tool provides risk estimates for a woman of similar age and race/ethnicity who is at average risk for developing breast cancer, aiding in comparison and understanding.

Lee Health Designated Comprehensive Breast Imaging Center

Lee Health’s Breast Imaging Centers have earned accreditation by the National Accreditations for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and the American College of Radiology Designated Comprehensive Breast Imaging Center. Our breast centers are also a certified member of the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers (NQMBC).

ACR Designated Comprehensive Breast Imaging Center

American College of Radiology Designated Comprehensive Breast Imaging Center

National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers

National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)

REQUEST A SCREENING NOW

Here you will find resources for scheduling a mammogram or breast cancer screening. Detecting breast cancer early gives patients a 98% chance of survival so don’t delay scheduling an appointment if you have concerns. Be sure to ask about resources like the Compassionate Mammogram Fund which helps provide screening resources to Southwest Florida residents.

Common Types of Breast Cancer Treated in Fort Myers

The two most common types of breast cancer in Southwest Florida are differentiated by their origin. Cancerous cells will originate in different parts of the breast, grow, and spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) - In IDC, cancerous cells start in the duct; the part of the breast that carries breast milk from the lobules to the nipple.
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) - In ILC, cancerous cells start in the lobules which are the glands that produce breast milk.

Women and men are born with ducts and lobules so both can develop IDC and ILC. However breast cancer is significantly less common in men. The CDC expects that only 1 out of every 100 cases of breast cancer in the US will be found in men.

Breast Cancer Treatment in Southwest Florida

Your physician may recommend a combination of treatments depending on your unique needs.

  • Surgery: Surgeons remove parts of the body with cancer via procedures like a lumpectomy or mastectomy.
  • Hormone Therapy: Physicians prescribe drugs like Tamoxifen which can restrict cancer’s ability to grow.
  • Biological Therapy: Physicians strategically use your body’s immune system to help your body fight cancer and the side-effects of the other therapies listed.
  • Radiation Therapy: Patients are given targeted high doses of radiation to shrink and kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Sessions where you’re given drugs that shrink and kill cancer cells in your body.

What is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer cells often have receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 that allow them to destroy the cells with hormone therapies and drugs. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer is a rare condition where a patient doesn’t have any of these receptors. 

The CDC uses a lock-and-key metaphor to explain how Triple-Negative Breast Cancer limits the treatment options available to patients. Estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 are all locks on cancer cells that can be cracked with the right key (hormone therapies and drugs). If cancer cells don’t have any of those locks then doctors can’t use any of the keys on them.

Despite this, Triple-Negative Breast Cancer is still treatable. Radiation and chemotherapy remain effective options and your oncologist will discuss the treatment options best suited for you. If you are diagnosed with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer remember you are not alone in your fight and there’s a community of survivors and specialists in Fort Myers who can help you.

Breast Cancer Early Detection

Breast Cancer Testing

  • Breast Biopsy

    Your doctor has recommended that you have a breast biopsy because of a suspicious area on your mammogram. Our breast imaging specialists perform this simple procedure at the Breast Health Center. 

  • Mammography

    Throughout your life, your breast tissue changes in response to fluctuations in hormones and structural changes by aging. Because of these changes, lumps can sometimes be detected either by touch or through mammography.

Breast Health Centers in Southwest Florida

The Lee Health Cancer Institute extends its support to patients across Florida, providing a wide range of comprehensive treatment options. Our team of highly skilled medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists is dedicated to delivering exceptional care.

Breast Cancer Support Group

  • Cancer Support Groups

    Cancer support groups are gatherings that provide a secure environment for those impacted by the disease to talk about their feelings and experiences with other cancer patients.

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