Breast cancer forms in tissues of the breast. Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer, affecting about 7 in 10 women with the disease; it begins in the cells that line the tubes that carry milk to the nipple.

Although rare, breast cancer can also occur in men.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

  • Breast lump or thickening
  • Bloody nipple discharge
  • Changes in breast size or shape
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling, redness or pitting
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of the nipple or skin
  • Inverted nipple

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • A previous history of breast cancer
  • Having a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) or a second-degree relative (such as a grandparent, aunt or cousin) who had breast cancer or a precancerous breast condition

Breast Cancer Diagnosis at Valley

Valley’s Breast Imaging Center provides imaging tests to diagnose breast cancer:

  • Digital diagnostic and screening mammograms, including 3D mammograms and tomosynthesis
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Breast MRI
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy
  • Fine-needle aspiration

If breast cancer is suspected, your doctor will perform a biopsy, a procedure in which a sample of breast tissue is removed. At Valley, your breast tissue is examined by a pathologist with expertise in breast cancer to confirm or rule out cancer.

Breast Patient Navigators

  • If you have an abnormal mammogram, our breast patient navigator will help coordinate any additional tests that are needed.
  • If you receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, your patient navigator transitions your care coordination to our nurse navigator. Our breast nurse navigator — along with your doctors — can help guide you through your breast cancer treatment options.

Breast Cancer Treatment at Valley

Breast cancer treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the tumor’s location, its stage and your health. 

Your doctors at Valley will work with you, your family and each other to create a personalized treatment plan. Typically, your breast cancer treatment at Valley will involve the following:

Chemotherapy and Targeted Therapy

Our medical oncologists at Valley guide you through therapies to attack your breast cancer, including:

  • Targeted therapies, medications that target cancer-causing gene changes in cells
  • Chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy to reduce the size of a tumor prior to surgery
  • Prophylactic treatment and genetic testing for high-risk patients
  • Special echocardiograms to monitor the effects on your heart prior to and during chemotherapy through our Cardio-Oncology Program
  • Oncotype DX, a genomic test that analyzes your genes to predict how your cancer is likely to behave and respond to treatment

Surgery

At Valley, breast surgeons use oncoplastic techniques that combine traditional cancer surgery with plastic surgery techniques. This innovative approach allows for superior cosmetic results. Valley offers patients a full range of breast reconstruction options.

We offer the full complement of breast procedures, including:

  • Breast-preserving lumpectomy
  • Breast seed localization, a more patient-friendly procedure to precisely pinpoint small breast tumors or abnormal breast tissue
  • Nipple-sparing mastectomy
  • Immediate reconstruction following mastectomy
  • Multidisciplinary oncoplastic and plastic surgery team for optimal cosmetic results

Radiation Therapy

Valley’s radiation oncology team offers the latest evidence-based radiation therapies, including the following:

  • TrueBeam radiation therapy: targets cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy cells; TrueBeam’s radiation beams are highly precise — to within millimeters
  • Accelerated, or hypofractionated, radiation therapy: offers comparable outcomes in three to four weeks of radiation, instead of the usual six to seven weeks
  • Heart-protecting techniques: including prone-breast treatment and deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH)
  • Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT)

Why Choose Valley for Breast Cancer?

  • Personalized treatments: Through regular conferences, our breast cancer team pools their expertise to recommend a personalized approach to treating your cancer.
  • Oncoplastic techniques: Our breast surgeons use oncoplastic techniques that combine traditional breast cancer surgery with plastic surgery. With these techniques, our breast surgeons can provide better cosmetic results while they meet your medical needs.
  • Breast patient navigators: Valley offers patient navigators throughout the breast cancer screening and treatment processes. Our navigators help you coordinate additional tests and provide emotional support.  
  • Genetic counseling: For women who have potential hereditary cancer, such as through the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, Valley offers genetic testing. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer can also get counseling about their chances for developing the disease, and learn about their options for cancer surveillance and prevention.
  • Advanced treatment options: We offer the latest evidence-based treatments combined with personalized attention and care plans. Our advanced options include highly precise radiation therapy through TrueBeam and IORT (intraoperative radiation therapy).
  • Heart monitoring: Our Cardio-Oncology Program works with your breast cancer team to monitor the effects of chemotherapy and other breast cancer treatments on your heart.
  • Accredited breast center: Valley is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program of the American College of Surgeons. Valley has been NAPBC-accredited since 2011.