Margie Petersen Breast Center
Margie Petersen Breast Center
With an emphasis on patient dignity and comfort, the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center offers some of the finest breast care in Southern California. We want to change the way women look at breast health and can identify and treat breast issues from pain and discharge to cancer. In fact, we have a dedicated Breast Health Center designed to function like a breast urgent care. Should a person find a lump or change in their breast, this program allows the patient to come in within 24 hours to have an evaluation.
For those diagnosed with breast cancer, we focus on caring for the whole person: mind, body and spirit and provide access to medical expertise, innovative treatments, and support services. Our doctors and nurse navigator make sure to provide each patient, and their families, a comprehensive and personalized path to the most effective treatment. This includes combining quality care with integrated practices such as mindfulness and yoga. From the moment you walk through our doors, you can expect to find compassion and a tranquil environment.
- The same comprehensive, cutting edge services offered by major academic centers, provided in the community hospitals you know and trust
- A team of specialists in every aspect of breast care who collaborate across multiple locations to provide convenient, connected care close to your home or work
- World-class treatment options, including the latest clinical trials
- Personal support, beyond treating the disease, that eases the ripple effects on your emotions and your life
Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. One in eight will develop the disease, and 85% of those who are diagnosed have no family history of breast cancer. This is why the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center encourages every woman to talk to her doctor, beginning at age 40, about when to start breast cancer screening through regular mammograms.
Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. When breast cancer is found early, before it has spread beyond the breast, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%.
Regular screening can help detect breast cancer before you might notice any symptoms. Providence offers these lifesaving screenings in multiple locations throughout Southern California. Using the advanced imaging and diagnostic technologies listed below, Providence’s dedicated breast radiologists are able to discover small cancers in their earliest, most treatable stages. Throughout your screening visit, our emphasis is on your comfort, privacy and dignity.
Providence provides expertise in treating all types of breast cancer, including rare forms.
- Ductal cancers start in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple.
- Lobular cancers start in the glands, or “lobules,” that produce milk.
- In situ indicates abnormal or cancerous cells that have not spread beyond the duct or gland.
- Infiltrating or invasive cancers have spread into surrounding breast tissue.
- Metastatic cancers have spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
The cancers we treat include, but are not limited to:
- Infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC): This is the most common type, making up 70-80% of all breast cancers. It begins in the lining of the milk ducts and then grows through the ducts into the nearby breast tissue. If not treated, it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): This is a non- or pre-invasive cancer that is still confined to the milk ducts, but that may become invasive.
- Infiltrating lobular carcinoma (ILC): Another common form of breast cancer, this type begins in the lining of the milk-producing glands and grows into the breast tissue. Without treatment, it can spread outside of the breast.
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): These abnormal cells, confined to the milk glands, are not technically considered cancer and don’t typically become invasive. However, they do increase the risk of developing cancer in either breast in the future.
- Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC): In this rare and very aggressive disease, cancer cells block the lymph vessels of the breast skin, causing inflammation, swelling, redness and thickening of the skin. This fast-spreading cancer can metastasize without quick treatment. About 1-5% of breast cancers are inflammatory.
- Metastatic breast cancer (MBC): While breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body can’t be cured, there are many treatments that can help keep them under control for years.
Your personalized treatment plan will depend on factors that are unique to you, from your specific diagnosis to your personal health and preferences. But one thing that most patients can count on is that it will take a team. And that’s where the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center shines.
Your team may include multiple experts who specialize in very specific aspects of treatment, as well as nurses, dietitians, counselors and others, all collaborating on your care. Collaboration is key, and we do it well. One way is through regular case review meetings, where members of your team, as well as Providence experts from outside your team, gather to review patient cases and to share clinical opinions, recommend treatments or symptom-management strategies, suggest opportunities for clinical trials and optimize care coordination.
From the latest targeted therapies to the most innovative approaches emerging through clinical trials, Providence leverages the full power of today’s most advanced, evidence-based therapies to treat breast cancer. Your personalized treatment plan may include any or all of the following:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy (endocrine therapy)
- Targeted therapy
- Clinical trials
The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances of successful treatment. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to any changes in your breasts that could be signs of breast cancer. Understanding what is normal for your breasts, and what isn’t, can be lifesaving.
In the very earliest stages, breast cancer has no outward symptoms. Sometimes the earliest sign is a tiny lump, or mass, that’s detectable only on a mammogram. As the disease progresses, however, more noticeable changes might appear. These can vary widely — while a lump is the most common symptom, it is by no means the only one. Any of the following changes could be a warning sign of breast cancer:
- A lump in the breast or armpit area
- Thickening or redness of the breast skin
- Swelling in all or part of the breast
- Dimpling, puckering, irritation or scaliness of the breast skin or nipple
- Pain or tenderness in the breast or nipple
- A nipple that turns inward, flattens out, pulls to one side or changes direction
- Bloody nipple discharge or unilateral discharge other than breast milk
These symptoms may be signs of breast cancer in men as well as women.
If you notice a potential symptom of breast cancer, or if you’re concerned about any changes in the way one of your breasts looks or feels, please call your primary care provider or breast care specialist. While these symptoms don’t always indicate cancer — sometimes they are signs of something less serious, such as a cyst or an infection — it’s important to have a physician evaluate them right away. Don’t wait to see if they go away on their own. It bears repeating: treating breast cancer successfully is much easier when it’s caught and treated early.
Thanks to our dedication to advancing health for our breast cancer patients, the breast center offers the most recent medical developments and clinical trials. Clinical trials help doctors and scientists find better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease. Individuals who volunteer for clinical trials play an active role in their own health care and help others by advancing medicine.
Many of the physicians and surgeons who are treating and caring for patients in the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s are also faculty, adjunct faculty and physicians in a fellowship program affiliated with the Saint John's Cancer Institute. The Saint John's Cancer Institute is a cancer research organization dedicated to the understanding and curing of cancer in order to eliminate patient suffering worldwide.
View some of the current breast oncology research efforts at the Saint John's Cancer Institute.
View a list of clinical trials associated with the Saint John's Cancer Institute and Providence Saint John’s Health Center. See all clinical trials.
Breast cancer risk assessment is very important for identifying women who may benefit from more intensive breast cancer surveillance. Utilizing advanced conversational AI technology called a CARE chatbot, we screen every patient undergoing mammography.
We screen every patient undergoing a screening or diagnostic mammogram for breast cancer risk. A Tyrer-Cuzick (TC) lifetime risk of developing breast cancer score is calculated and updated annually. Women with calculated lifetime risk of 20% or higher are recommended to consider screening with annual breast MRI in addition to annual mammography, which can provide the highest sensitivity in detecting breast cancer.
We screen every patient undergoing a screening or diagnostic mammogram for inherited risk to identify individuals who meet criteria for cancer genetic risk assessment due to personal and family history of cancer. Patients who meet National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Genetic/Familial Risk criteria are given additional information and are contacted by our genetics program for appropriate follow up.
Genetic counseling and testing are available for all hereditary cancer syndromes and familial patterns of cancer. To deliver precision medicine, our genetic counselors combine genetic test results, personal factors, family history, and counseling to generate a personalized genetic risk assessment with estimates of future cancer risks for both individuals and family members. The process of genetic counseling creates risk estimates of increased accuracy as well as improved patient and physician understanding, which leads to individualized medical management, empowered cancer prevention, and appropriate risk reduction strategies.
We offer multiple service options to meet individual needs for genetic testing including:
- In-person appointments, telehealth appointments, mammography and walk-in clinics.
- Full-service genetic counseling for comprehensive pre-test and post-test engagement.
- Walk-in genetics clinics with rapid sample collection for convenient genetic testing that includes expert coordination and oversight by a licensed board-certified genetic counselor.
- Post-test genetic counseling for individuals who have had previous genetic testing and would like an updated or expert interpretation of their results, would like to consider having updated or additional testing, or would benefit from having a formal comprehensive risk assessment.