Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer | Loyola Medicine

Breast Cancer

Nationally Recognized Breast Cancer Care

Loyola Medicine is recognized for comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and clinical research of breast cancer, the most common cancer among women in America.  
Loyola is proud to offer you a “one visit, one location” approach for comprehensive breast cancer care. If you have breast cancer, our nationally recognized staff of breast cancer specialists at Loyola's Breast Oncology Center within the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center gives you access to an experienced team of surgical oncologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and cancer nurses.

Why Choose Loyola for Breast Cancer Care?

Loyola is one of a select group of institutions in the nation that offers a one-visit, team approach for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. In just one visit, you'll meet with a medical team, including surgical, medical and radiation oncologists.  

Immediately following that meeting, our experts including radiologists, pathologists, research nurses and other breast care specialists meet in a patient care review session to collaborate on an overall evaluation of your case, and provide treatment recommendations. After a consensus of the best treatment plan is reached, the team will meet with you and your family to discuss the recommended course of treatment. 

Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Support for Breast Cancer

Loyola goes beyond treating just your breast cancer. We strive to support your physical, emotional and spiritual needs by providing a compassionate nursing staff who will connect you with experienced social workers, spiritual care providers, psychologists, dietitians and genetic counselors through the Coleman Foundation Image Renewal Center.

What Are the Most Common Types of Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of the breast. There are several types of breast cancer, including:

  • Ductal carcinoma – The most common type of breast cancer, which begins in the lining of the milk ducts.
  • Invasive breast cancer – Cancer that has spread from its origin of the ducts or lobules to surrounding normal tissue.
  • Lobular carcinoma – Breast cancer that begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breasts.

Additionally, there are rare types of breast cancer, including:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) does not usually have a single lump or tumor.  IBC makes the skin on the breast look red and feel warm.
  • Paget disease of the nipple starts in the ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and areola, the dark circle around the nipple.
  • Phyllodes tumor is a very rare breast tumor that develops in the stroma (connective tissue) of the breast.
  • Cancer cells in triple-negative breast cancer lack the three main hormone receptors, including estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2).

While quite rare, breast cancer can also affect men.

How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

Loyola doctors who specialize in the treatment of breast cancer provide state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for their patients. A multidisciplinary team of breast cancer specialists works with you to develop an individualized diagnostic and treatment plan to address your specific needs.
As a top-ranking academic medical center, Loyola has access to the most current diagnostic tests. The diagnostic tests most often performed for breast cancer include:

  • Blood chemistry studies
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE)
  • Mammogram
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Ultrasound

If any of the diagnostic tests indicate the potential for breast cancer, your doctor may discuss the need for a biopsy to make a definitive diagnosis. A breast biopsy can include one of the following:

  • Core biopsy is the removal of tissue using a wide needle.
  • Excisional biopsy is the removal of an entire lump of tissue.
  • FNA biopsy (fine-needle aspiration) is the removal of tissue or fluid using a thin needle.
  • Incisional biopsy is the removal of part of a lump or a sample of tissue.

How is Breast Cancer Treated?

Breast cancer treatment is specific to each individual, and depends on the type, size, location and stage of your cancer. At Loyola, a multidisciplinary team of radiologists, pathologists, oncologists and surgeons work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will result in the most positive outcomes for you. 
Most patients with breast cancer have surgery to remove the cancer from the breast.  Surgeries to conserve the breasts include:

  • Lumpectomy – Removal of the breast lump and a small, surrounding area of normal tissue
  • Partial mastectomy – Removal of the cancerous area and more of the surrounding, normal breast tissue than a lumpectomy
  • Patients who are treated with these surgeries may also require a lymph node dissection, which includes the removal of some lymph nodes under the arm for biopsy.

Other, more radical surgical treatments include:

  • Modified radical mastectomy is a simple mastectomy with the removal of underarm lymph nodes.
  • Simple mastectomy, also called a total mastectomy, is the removal of the entire breast, including the nipple.

In addition to surgery, many patients will require additional forms of cancer treatment to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. These additional treatments may include: 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted therapy

Early Detection and Screening for Breast Cancer

As with any cancer, early detection and prevention help increase your cancer treatment options and improve your outcome. Loyola follows the American Cancer Society’s recommendations and guidelines for breast cancer screening, which includes yearly mammograms starting at age 40. If you are at high risk, you may be advised to start screening earlier.

Loyola Medicine's renowned radiologists and clinical staff provide expert breast imaging using advanced technology. Digital mammography is the most common imaging used to screen for breast cancer. Loyola also offers digital breast tomosynthesis, also called 3D mammography.  Digital breast tomosynthesis is a special type of mammography that produces a 3-dimensional image of the breast using low-dose X-rays.

A small percentage of women may need to have a breast MRI in addition to mammograms, because of family history, a genetic tendency or other factors. 

Learn more about our cancer risk assessment program and hereditary cancer genetics evaluation program or talk with your Loyola doctor about your history to determine whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.

Regular breast screenings are the best way to find cancer early. You can schedule a mammogram at a Loyola Medicine location convenient to you.

Leading-edge Breast Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

As a patient at Loyola, you will have access to leading-edge treatments, while Loyola's breast research program works to provide access to a broad menu of national and international clinical trials.