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Breast Cancer


Meet our Cancer Specialists:  Albert Wendt, MD  |  Lora Hebert, MD, FACS   |  Valerie Israel, DO 

Breast Cancer Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment

The Breast Cancer program at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The average risk for breast cancer in a woman’s lifetime up to age 90 is approximately 12 percent. Risk increases with age, but according to the National Cancer Institute, even at age 70, the typical woman’s risk is less than 4 percent, which means she has slightly more than a 96 percent chance of not being diagnosed with breast cancer by age 70.

“We’re finding more breast cancers than we ever have before, but fewer women are dying of breast cancer today compared with just 15 years ago,” said Albert Wendt, MD, a medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer risk assessment, diagnosis, and treatment at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s.

Still, the risk is there for every woman as she ages, and doctors agree that vigilance is the key to catching breast cancer and treating it with the best chance of curing it and ensuring survival. Approximately 95 percent of breast cancer patients whose cancer is caught in an early stage survive beyond five years. The key to determining how best to monitor your breast health is a frank discussion with your doctor about how often you should have a screening mammogram once you reach age 40, based on your personal risk factors.

Men are also at risk of developing breast cancer, although it is very rare in men.  According to the National Cancer Institute, each year there are about 2,300 new cases of breast cancer in men compared to about 230,000 new cases in women.

For more information about breast cancer or to schedule an appointment, please call 888.653.9949.

Common Terms Associated with Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can take on many forms and may be referred to by any of the following terms.

Ductal Carcinoma – Breast cancer located in the lining of the milk ducts.

Lobular Carcinoma – Breast cancer located in the milk glands.

Invasive – Breast cancer that spreads beyond where it began in the breast to surrounding tissue, also referred to as metastasizing. About 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer cases occur each year.

Non-Invasive - Breast cancer that is confined to where in the breast it began. About 50,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer occur each year.

Hormone-Receptor Positive – This means the breast cancer tumor cells contains hormone receptors. Hormone therapy can be used to block estrogen and/or progesterone production in order to slow or stop the growth of hormone-sensitive (or hormone-dependent) breast cancers.

Hormone-Receptor Negative – This means the breast cancer tumor cells do not contain hormone receptors. Hormone therapy would not be an effective treatment to slow or stop the growth of a tumor.  

If Breast Cancer is Found

The most important step to take if breast cancer is suspected from a mammogram or other screening modality is to see a specialist for a consultation. The breast cancer experts at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s can guide you through what you should do next. You can make an appointment with one of our breast cancer specialists by calling 888.653.9949.

If an oncologist determines that you have breast cancer, treatment will be developed just for you and personalized to your needs. A treatment suited for another woman whose situation is similar to yours may not be the same treatment that’s best for you. One of the hallmarks of The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s is the commitment to provide tailored treatment for every patient, based on their genetic profile, lifestyle, and individual circumstances.

What Happens After You Make an Appointment

Because breast changes are not always caused by cancer, every patient at the Center receives a thorough evaluation that includes a physical exam and questions about personal and family medical history. Sometimes a referral is made to a genetic counselor since about 10% of breast cancer is related to the genes you inherited. A biopsy and other diagnostic tests are available for every patient.

Treatment you may receive
There are three ways to treat breast cancer: surgery, radiation, and medications. Surgery and radiation are two important types of treatment for assuring control of the cancer. Your oncologist at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s will help you understand which treatment is most appropriate for you.

Questions to ask your oncologist

  1. How will you determine whether I have breast cancer and what kind of breast cancer I have?
  2. How will you determine the best treatment for me?
  3. How long does each treatment option typically last, both individually and as a series of treatments?
  4. How will you know if the treatment is making progress?
  5. How long will I need to remain your patient?

For more information about various types of cancer, cancer staging and treatment options, click on this link from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN): NCCN Guidelines for Patients® - nccn.org/patients/default.aspx

For more information about breast cancer or to schedule an appointment, please call 888.653.9949.

Decreasing risk for breast cancer

You can minimize your risk of developing breast cancer through these four steps:

  • Exercising 3 or more hours per week
  • Eating low-fat and high-fiber foods
  • Maintaining a normal body weight (a BMI of less than 25)
  • Limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day