Breast Cancer

Surgeons from the Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery Section work as part of a multidisciplinary team at The Breast Health Center in The Center for Advanced Medicine to diagnose and treat women with breast cancer.

Most women who come to The Breast Health Center are healthy and receive regular screening mammograms as part of a routine checkup. If a lump is discovered through mammography and/or ultrasound testing, breast surgeons often are able to perform a biopsy the same day. Should a patient be diagnosed with breast cancer, she will be able to develop a treatment plan by meeting with a surgeon, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and a psychosocial counselor all in one day.

Breast imaging services include mammography, ultrasound and image-guided needle biopsies. The Center also can provide risk assessment and referrals for genetic counseling.

Ductoscopy

Women who have pathologic nipple discharge or who are at high risk for developing breast cancer may be candidates for ductoscopy.

In ductoscopy, breast surgeons use a microendoscope to visualize the ductal lining of the breast.

Most ductoscopy studies have focused on patients with pathologic nipple discharge. Research shows ductoscopy is more effective than ductograms in identifying abnormalities, and ductoscopy can help guide surgeons more precisely to proliferative lesions in the operating room – allowing them to excise the abnormal lesions while preserving normal breast tissue.

In women at high risk for breast cancer, abnormal ductoscopy findings result in an intraductal biopsy or ductal lavage (massage of the breast to coax cells within the ducts toward the nipple). Atypia is found in about 30 percent of patients, who then may undergo chemoprevention to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Care

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer receive an expedited diagnosis and treatment plan.

Breast cancer patients are given personalized, professional care at the Siteman Cancer Center, one of the country’s foremost cancer centers. Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians who are leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Advanced treatments for breast cancer offered at Siteman Cancer Center include:

  • Brachytherapy (a form of radiation therapy used with small cancers that have been completely excised and have not spread to any lymph nodes)
  • Sentinel node mapping (locating and removing only the sentinel lymph node – the first lymph node to which breast cancer is likely to spread – in order to check for evidence of cancer)
  • Surgical approaches that aid in breast conservation

Breast reconstruction is offered in conjunction with Washington University plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

For convenience, when a patient visits the cancer center, specialists come to her examination room rather than the patient making appointments and going to individual physician offices.

Surgeons who treat breast cancer:

Rebecca L. Aft, MD, PhD
Amy E. Cyr, MD
Timothy J. Eberlein, MD
William E. Gillanders, MD
Julie A. Margenthaler, MD 

For an appointment with a Washington University breast cancer surgeon, please call (314) 362-2280.

More information on breast cancer:

Siteman Cancer Center Web Page on Breast Cancer
National Cancer Institute CancerGov Web Page on Breast Cancer