At Providence, achieving optimal breast health and providing world-class treatment for breast cancer are equal priorities in our continuing goal to improve women's health.
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Breast Cancer Program
Breast Cancer Program
We are here for you from the moment you find a lump or hear the words, “You have breast cancer.” Our Providence Oregon team will work with you to find the best possible treatment plan. And we’ll stay with you every step of the way.
The Providence Breast Cancer Program can help you whether you have a noncancerous (benign) breast condition, a worrisome lump or are seeking care following a breast cancer diagnosis.
A team of experts – medical oncologists, breast surgeons, radiologists and reconstructive surgeons – works together to care for you. We call this a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Having a group of breast specialists ensures the highest quality of care and helps us tailor treatment plans to each patient’s needs. From radiation for breast cancer, to surgery or a clinical trial, we can help.
We focus on treating different types of breast cancer and related conditions. Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the breast, usually as a tumor or lump. Like a lot of cancers, breast cancer grows by simple cell division. It begins with one damaged or mutated cell, which divides to become two cells, and so on.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. It mostly affects women, though men can get breast cancer too.
Other conditions and types of breast cancer we treat include:
- Breast lump: A spot in your breast that is swollen or feels different from other breast tissue. Not all lumps in the breast are cancerous. In fact, many are noncancerous (benign). A breast lump may result from an infection, cyst or another condition.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): A condition where the cancer cells are all within the ducts of the breast and have not invaded surrounding breast tissue. About 20% of breast cancers diagnosed are DCIS, a non-invasive breast cancer. Non-invasive means the cancer hasn't spread to nearby tissue. DCIS has a low risk of becoming invasive.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: A less common form of breast cancer where cancer cells block the skin’s lymph vessels. This causes the breast to appear swollen, red and thick. This cancer has different symptoms and treatments than other types of breast cancer.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma: The most common type of breast cancer. It starts in the milk ducts and spreads to nearby tissues.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: The second most common type of breast cancer. It starts in the lobules (glands in the breast that make milk) and spreads to other parts of the breast.
- Metastatic breast cancer: When cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body, except nearby armpit lymph nodes. Usually, cancer travels in the blood or through the lymph nodes to organs, such as the bones, lungs, liver or brain. Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can be different based on where the cancer is in the body.
At Providence, our team of experts will help you understand your condition and how to approach treatment.
We offer ways to help prevent, diagnose and treat breast cancer and other breast conditions.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a breast lump. Monitoring your breasts for lumps, redness or pain can help you find any problems. You should also get a mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts. It can help find cancer early before it becomes advanced enough for you to feel.
Your provider may also recommend additional types of screenings, including an ultrasound or a breast MRI. If you have a breast tumor, your provider may recommend further testing, such as a breast biopsy. This procedure removes tissue from the breast tumor and helps with precise diagnosis and treatment.
Providence encourages every woman to talk to her doctor, beginning at age 40, about when to start breast cancer screening through regular mammograms.
Our breast care clinics can help if you have any of these breast cancer symptoms or risk factors:
- Hereditary gene mutation, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2
- High risk of breast cancer due to family history
- Pain, swelling, redness, nipple discharge or a rash
Our breast specialists can review your risk for breast cancer and perform a clinical breast exam. We’ll work with you to develop a personalized care plan and decide on the best breast imaging for you. If necessary, we can refer you for genetic counseling and other specialists at Providence Cancer Institute.
If you’ve been told you need to see a breast surgeon for a noncancerous (benign) breast condition or breast cancer, we’re here to help. We have a team of breast surgeons, surgical oncologists, and dedicated nurses and physician assistants that make your treatment and recovery their priority. Our breast surgeons work closely with reconstructive surgeons to ensure the best possible results. We’ll educate you on your diagnosis, provide clear treatment options and advocate for you during treatment and recovery.
With three locations in Portland, Newberg and Clackamas, our breast surgeons can provide your care closer to home.
Those who need cancer rehabilitation benefit from a multidisciplinary team of oncology rehabilitation experts. Our physical therapists, occupational therapists, palliative care experts, dietitians, naturopathic physicians, massage therapists and social workers help meet the specific needs of every patient.
We combine evidence-based cancer rehabilitation practices with services to address side effects and symptoms. Breast cancer rehab aims to maximize mobility and prevent or manage lymphedema, depression, pain and fatigue. This helps you recover energy, well-being and quality of life quickly and completely.
At Providence, we work with you to personalize your treatment plan, depending on factors unique to you. We leverage the full power of the most advanced therapies, while surrounding you with a care team every step of the way.
Your plan may include:
Surgeries may involve a lumpectomy, mastectomy or breast reconstruction.
Providence Integrative Medicine offers naturopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic services and massage therapy. We use safe, natural therapies that have been shown by science to ease side effects associated with cancer treatment and to support your overall healing. Our integrative medicine and oncology teams work together to ensure a well-rounded approach to your care.
Genomic sequencing looks at your tumor’s DNA so that your physicians can understand the unique mutations. This helps your care team determine what treatments may be most successful.
Many of our breast oncologists are also researchers who are leading studies for various types of breast cancer. Providence Cancer Institute is a leading site in the Pacific Northwest for novel clinical trials.
For some breast cancers, you may need radiation to try to shrink the tumor. Providence offers multiple types of radiation therapy, including new MRI-guided radiation therapy technology (MR-Linac). This technology can deliver more precise radiation treatment because of its ongoing MRI monitoring of organ movement during treatment. MR-Linac decreases damage to healthy tissues and organs. It also provides stronger, shorter and more effective radiation therapy, compared to standard methods.
Systemic therapies, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy (anti-estrogen) and immunotherapy can be used together or separately to target breast cancer cells. These drugs may be injected into a vein or taken by mouth to enter the bloodstream and treat the cancer. Providence has been involved in developing new immunotherapy treatments for more than 25 years. We are also known globally for robust research and breakthrough treatments offered to patients.
Transitions An Appearance Centers are located at both Providence Portland Medical Center and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.
Our shop is exclusively designed to assist you with:
- Comfortable bras for your mastectomy, lumpectomy and reconstruction needs
- Breast forms (prosthesis) for daily use and swimwear
- Lymphedema garments
- Head coverings, carefully selected for chemotherapy-related hair loss
Learning about risk factors can help you understand your chances of getting breast cancer.
- Age: As you get older, your risk goes up. Providence encourages every woman to talk to her doctor, beginning at age 40, about when to start breast cancer screening through regular mammograms.
- Ethnicity: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic women. It’s also more common in African American women under age 45.
- Family: Your risk almost doubles if you have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, but it also depends on their age when they were diagnosed.
- Gender: Being a woman is the No. 1 risk factor, but men can get breast cancer too.
- Genetics: Inherited genetic mutations in certain genes cause 5-10% of breast cancers. Genetic testing for breast cancer – know your risk.
- Lifestyle: Obesity and drinking alcohol regularly can increase your risk. Recent studies have found that drinking one glass of beer, wine or liquor per day could increase a woman’s lifetime risk anywhere from 7% to 11%.
Your primary care doctor can help you understand your risk factors. You can also get help from genetic specialists at the Franz Genetic Risk Clinic at the Providence Cancer Institute. They can help to assess your individual cancer risk in detail or define strategies for reducing your risk.
To lower your risk:
- Eat fruits, veggies and whole grains
- Exercise 30 minutes per day
- Get regular mammograms*
- Limit alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight
*Getting a mammogram is the best way to find early signs of breast cancer. The goal of a mammogram is to catch the cancer early for a better chance of recovery.
Clinical trials are research studies that test whether new medical treatments, devices or plans are safe and effective. Patients who volunteer for clinical trials play an active role in their own healthcare. They often gain access to the most cutting-edge therapies and ideas and help others by improving and advancing medical care.
At Providence, our cancer specialists work directly with our researchers to find new ways to treat breast cancer. Clinical trials give you access to the latest treatments available.
More than 150 trials are open at any time. Recently, we opened a breast cancer trial with a unique therapy that resulted from research in the lab at Providence.
Your care team will work with you to see if a clinical trial is the best option for your specific type of cancer.
At Providence, our goal is to bring world-class cancer care to all the communities we serve. Providence patient Rochelle Roaden shares her story of facing (and beating) breast cancer. Rochelle was able to receive all her cancer care at the Providence Cancer Institute in Yamhill County. She calls on women to be aware of their bodies and advocate for their care.
In the spring of 2020, the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center, a part of the Providence Cancer Institute, was the first facility in the Pacific Northwest to offer MRI guided radiation therapy (MR-Linac) technology for cancer radiation. It’s the biggest advancement in radiation oncology in 20 years. It helps provide stronger, shorter, more effective treatment with possibly fewer side effects.
The Living Well cancer resources provide information, support and hope. Learn from both healthcare experts and patients who share their stories and experiences with cancer.