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Angiosarcoma of the Breast

What is angiosarcoma of the breast?

Angiosarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the breast and in the skin of the arms. It can grow and spread quickly.

Angiosarcoma can be difficult to diagnose, so requires assessment by an experienced pathologist. Slides are sent from all over the United States to the Johns Hopkins Breast Center where our expert pathologists can accurately confirm a diagnosis of angiosarcoma.

 There are two types of angiosarcomas:

  1. Primary angiosarcoma. Women who have never been treated for breast cancer before will usually receive this diagnosis.
  2. Secondary angiosarcoma. This cancer may occur in women who have been previously treated for breast cancer. It can occasionally be caused by radiation treatments but is more strongly related to lymphedema of the breast and arm.

What are the symptoms of breast angiosarcoma?

Symptoms of breast secondary angiosarcoma include:

  • Splotchy purplish rash on the skin of the breast or arm

What is the process for diagnosis of breast angiosarcoma?

Secondary angiosarcoma of the breast is diagnosed by punch biopsy of the skin.

What is the treatment for breast angiosarcoma?

A strong treatment strategy is necessary for this fast, aggressive cancer. At our Breast Center, our physicians will work quickly to assess and stage the cancer during your staging workup. Treatment will include:

  1. Surgery. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, surgery may be performed as a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Our surgical oncologists are breast experts who specialize in breast conservation surgery and are known nationally for their skill and cutting-edge techniques in the treatment and reconstruction of the breast.
  2. Chemotherapy. Some women with angiosarcomas recieve chemotherapy after the surgery.  Decisions about chemotherapy depend on the characteristics of the specific angiosarcoma.
  3. Radiation Therapy. Some patients will receive radiation treatments after the surgery depending on the characteristics of the angiosarcoma.