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Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Expert Breast Cancer Care Close to Home

Advanced diagnostics for fast answers

If a possible problem is spotted during your mammogram, we will perform additional testing and provide you with your results on the very same day, whenever possible. No waiting and worrying—we'll get you answers fast. Our advanced diagnostics include:

  • 3T MRI—Our radiologists use this advanced technology for enhanced imaging of smaller, more difficult-to-read areas
  • Breast ultrasounds—Our doctors use the latest ultrasound imaging to determine if the mass is fluid-filled or solid before a biopsy is done
  • Intact breast excisional biopsies—Our surgeons use this traditional method to remove all or part of the mass
  • MRI-guided biopsies—Our radiologists use MRI imaging to guide them when performing biopsies on very small areas only seen with MRI imaging
  • Needle/Wire localization—a minimally invasive procedure performed in two stages to accurately remove small, suspicious areas in the breast. A radiologist inserts a specialized hollow needle that contains a thin wire into the suspicious area of the breast. When the needle is removed the wire remains in place, and a mammogram is performed. Then, a surgeon will use the wire and the mammogram as a guide to accurately remove the suspicious area during surgery. Click here for an educational video.*
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy—a minimally invasive procedure performed in two stages. First, a radioactive tracer and numbing medication are injected into the breast to identify sentinel lymph nodes located near the cancerous tumor(s) and most likely to spread primary tumors. Next, these nodes are removed during outpatient surgery and analyzed for the presence of cancer cells. Click here for an educational video.*
  • Stereotactic breast biopsies—Our radiologists take digital images from a variety of angles to map the precise location of the abnormality before taking a sample (to learn more, click here to view an educational video that thoroughly explains this procedure*)
  • Ultrasound-guided biopsies—Our radiologists use ultrasound imaging to guide them when taking samples of a solid masses (to learn more, click here to view an educational video that thoroughly explains this procedure*)

* The stereotactic breast biopsy video was produced by South Sound Radiology, and CancerQuest produced the sentinel lymph node biopsy video. The ultrasound-guided biopsy and needle/wire localization videos were produced by UPMC. Northwest Community Healthcare does not have affiliations with these organizations.

Determining the most effective breast cancer treatment plan

If even the smallest breast cancer tumor is detected, the NCH Breast Center team will work with you to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Your team of specialists will include oncologists, radiologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists—all highly skilled and dedicated to ensuring that you get the most effective breast cancer treatment possible.

Determining what to do depends on your type of breast cancer. Your doctors use the following factors to determine the most effective treatment:

  • The size of your tumor, if lymph nodes are involved and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. There are four stages of breast cancer referred to as stages I, II, III, and IV.
  • The sensitivity of your breast cancer to hormones, indicated by the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors
  • HER2/neu gene—The presence of this gene indicates there is a higher chance of a recurrence

Personal, ongoing support during breast cancer treatment from your breast nurse navigator

If cancer is found, you will be assigned a breast nurse navigator to guide you and your family throughout your breast cancer care. Our nurse navigators act as proactive links between you and your physicians. They make sure that everybody stays informed about your care and well-being. They are here to:

  • Answer all your questions and provide support when you need it
  • Coordinate your care and treatment scheduling
  • Explain procedures before you have them
  • Help you and your family understand your diagnosis and treatment options
  • Provide information about services and resources you may need

The NCH breast nurse navigator program is supported by a generous grant from the Susan F. Lasky Foundation.**

Local and systemic therapies are used to find and destroy breast cancer cells

There are many advanced options available today to treat breast cancer. In many cases, minimally invasive surgeries, which allow you to conserve your breasts and avoid a mastectomy, are recommended. Surgery and radiation therapy are referred to as local therapies because they target the tumor directly. However, it is sometimes difficult for your doctor to determine if the cancer cells have spread. In these cases, your doctor will also recommend one or a combination of systemic therapies, which travel through the bloodstream looking for additional cancer cells.

  • Hormone therapy—Blocks the effects of your body’s hormones. If your cancer is hormone-sensitive, this may be used in combination with chemotherapy
  • Immune therapy—Called Herceptin®, it blocks the effect of a protein called HER2, which is found on the surface of some cancer cells and signals them to grow. It reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 50 percent
  • Chemotherapy treatments—A combination of drugs that kill cancer cells, given in a specific order for a specific period of time and then followed by a recovery time
  • Radiation therapy—A local treatment that affects only the part of the body being treated. It uses special equipment to deliver high doses of radiation that destroy cancer cells. The most common internal radiation is called MammoSite® RTS—a system of radiation delivery for breast cancer using a small balloon catheter

A convenient and comfortable environment for patients needing surgery

  • With advanced surgical technologies at their fingertips, and state-of-the art operating rooms, the NCH Surgical Services team provides expert care and personalized support for all your breast cancer surgical needs
  • If you require an overnight stay after your breast cancer surgery, you will enjoy the healing environment of a private room in the South Pavilion, equipped with the latest technologies, overnight accommodations for a family member and amenities such as in-room showers and wireless Internet access

You deserve the best breast cancer care

Our multidisciplinary approach and high level of patient care has been recognized with numerous awards and accreditations, including:

** The Susan F. Lasky Foundation pays tribute to Suzie Lasky—a courageous young woman who lost her six-year battle with breast cancer. The organization’s mission is to support individuals who are undergoing treatment for cancer, to promote all types of cancer research, and to provide assistance for individuals and organizations whose efforts benefit cancer patients.

Feel confident in your breast care. Get your mammograms and breast cancer care from some of the best doctors in Chicago, at NCH. Find one now.

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Last Updated 2012/06/05