Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells start to grow out of control in the breast. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Early detection is the key to treating breast cancer effectively.
Metastatic breast cancer is when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. This can be life-threatening, which is why it’s important to begin treatment as soon as the cancer is discovered.
The region’s only Breast Center of Excellence
As the only nationally accredited facility in the Brazos Valley, the Breast Center at St. Joseph Health has earned this designation through our devotion to patient-centered care, including exceptional standards in our research, technology, medicines and staff.
A program of the American College of Surgeons, the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) challenges breast cancer centers to enhance the care they provide by addressing patient-centered needs and measuring the quality of the care they deliver against national standards. Read more about our recent reaccreditation.
Meet our Breast Cancer Leadership Team.
Types of breast cancer
- Ductal carcinoma
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Paget disease
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Triple negative breast cancer
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Because breast cancer occurs in about one in every eight women, it’s important to receive regular screenings based on your age. If you are at higher risk for this condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings. Some risk factors include:
- A family history of breast cancer
- A personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
- A personal history of benign tumors and tissue removal
- Mutations in breast cancer gene 1 or breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA 1 and BRCA 2)
- Menstruation earlier than age 12
- Giving birth to a first child after age 30, or being childless
- Beginning menopause after age 55
- Age; most cases occur in women or men over 50 years old
- Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage daily
- Being overweight, particularly after menopause
- Taking birth control pills for more than four years before a first, full-term pregnancy
- Using postmenopausal hormone therapy
- Exposure to occupational radiation
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
It’s important to be aware of the normal state of your breasts so that you can notice any potential changes. Monthly self-exams and yearly clinical exams are good ways to note any abnormalities that could be signs of breast cancer. Symptoms can include:
- Breast size or shape changes
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Lumps, hard knots, or thickening inside the breast or underarm
- Breast swelling, redness or darkening, or warmth
- An itchy nipple sore or rash
- Sudden nipple discharge
- Breast or nipple inversion or retraction
- New, persistent pain in one area
If you experience any of these symptoms suddenly or would like to assess your personal breast cancer risk, talk to your St. Joseph Health primary care physician.
How do you diagnose breast cancer?
More than 180,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year. However, 98% of breast cancers are survivable with early detection. Monthly self-exams and regular diagnostic examinations are an important part of preventive breast health care.
Our screening and diagnostic imaging services include:
- Digital mammography
- Breast MRI with biopsy capabilities
- Breast ultrasound
- Stereotactic and ultrasound-guided needle biopsy
The board-certified, dedicated breast radiologists at St. Joseph Health are specialty-trained and committed to accurate diagnosis and the highest standard of patient safety and care.
What is the treatment for breast cancer?
The physicians at St. Joseph Health, including breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, and radiation oncologists, provide advanced, multidisciplinary care to our patients. We use a compassionate, collaborative approach to create a personalized treatment plan.
Some of the treatments and procedures we provide include:
- Breast cancer surgery
- Radioactive seed localization (RSL)
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
Your doctor, along with our multidisciplinary team of oncologic experts, will discuss what options are best suited for you and your diagnosis.