Mission Breast Cancer Program Mission Cancer brings together a multidisciplinary team of specialists who provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for benign and malignant conditions of the breast. We deliver personalized care based on each patient’s unique needs, and consolidate our services in a single location, ensuring patients have access to comprehensive and convenient breast care. Our team of experts at the Mission Breast Program includes: Fellowship-trained surgical oncologists Medical oncologists Radiation oncologists Diagnostic radiologists Pathologists Genetic counselors Dedicated nurse navigators Physical Therapists Plastic surgeons Counseling services Clinical Research Staff Our team is highly skilled, and has years of experience in delivering the highest standard of care for breast problems and breast cancer to western North Carolina. As an accredited program by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, we are dedicated to enhancing the level of breast care in the region and ensuring patients receive the best possible outcomes. We pride ourselves in the exceptional breast care our patients receive, and strive to educate and empower our patients to be active participants in their care What Is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in one or both breasts. They may invade nearby tissues and form a mass, called a malignant tumor, and may spread (metastasize) to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Breast cancer that begins in the ducts of the breast is called ductal carcinoma, and is the most common type of breast cancer. It may also begin in the lobes of the breast, called lobular carcinoma, or can be a mix of these cancer types. Breast Cancer Risk Factors While it is impossible to identify a specific cause for any particular breast cancer, certain risk factors may increase an individual’s risk. Because of this, it is crucial to discuss your risk factors with your doctor and receive regular screenings based on your individual risk factors. Breast cancer risk factors include: Aging Alcohol consumption Being overweight or obese Having dense breasts Family history of breast cancer Menopause after 55 Not breastfeeding Certain genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 Breast Cancer Symptoms Breast cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, which may include: A change in the way the breast feels — the most common symptom is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or underarm A change in the way the breast looks — the skin may dimple, or there may be a change in the shape or size in the breast A change in the nipple — it may turn in, or the skin around it may look scaly Bloody discharge Breast Cancer Screening At Mission Cancer, we recommend regular screenings to catch breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. The board-certified radiologists at the Mission Breast Imaging Program have focused expertise in breast imaging, ensuring accurate diagnosis and precise treatment. The Mission Breast Imaging program offers convenient locations throughout western North Carolina, ensuring you have access to state-of-the-art imaging, close to home. We offer convenient access to mammography, ultrasound and MRI services. Learn more about our Breast Imaging Program Mission Breast Program High Risk Clinic The Mission Breast Program High Risk Clinic is a comprehensive program dedicated to identifying women at a high risk for breast and ovarian cancer, initiating timely screenings to identify cancer as early as possible and developing personalized strategies to reduce the risk of cancer. Learn more about our High Risk Clinic. Cancer Diagnosis If it is determined that you have a lump or an abnormal mammogram, you will first meet with your physician-led oncology team, who will conduct a physical examination, and assess your symptoms, medical history and family history and determine if additional tests are needed. You may have a biopsy, a test in which the doctor removes a small sample of the lump to determine if it is cancer, and if so, what kind it is. There are many different subtypes of breast cancer and because of the treatment is highly individualized to the subtype and to the individual. Our surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists work together in a multidisciplinary fashion to deliver the appropriate order and combination of therapies tailored to the individual situation. If it is determined that you have breast cancer, a work-up will be completed in order to best direct treatment. You may receive additional tests if indicated, including: More mammograms Breast ultrasound Breast MRI Complete blood count Chemistry screen Chest X-ray Genetic testing Treatment Breast cancer treatment continues to evolve more rapidly than ever, emphasizing the need for a commitment to a disease-focused approach. That’s why we deliver a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, bringing together surgical, medical and radiation oncologists with specialized expertise in treating breast cancer, all in one location. Whether you need single, dual or a combination of all three therapies, you can be confident that you are receiving the highest level of breast care. Breast Surgery Breast surgery may be recommended to remove the cancer, lymph nodes or, in some cases, the affected breast. Mission Breast Program surgeons are dedicated to the management of benign and malignant breast problems. Lumpectomy – This is a breast-conserving surgery used if the size of the cancer is small enough and if the cancer is confined to one area of the breast. During a lumpectomy, the surgeon will remove the cancer and some of the surrounding tissue. The size and location of the tumors differ from one person to another, so the amount of tissue removed also differs. Additionally, some of the lymph nodes under the arm may be removed. At Mission, our breast surgeons offer the hidden-scar approach for lumpectomies when possible. During this procedure, the surgeon may hide the incision in the natural crease under the breast, around the nipple areolar complex or in the crease of your armpit so your scar will not be visible. Mastectomy – This is a procedure in which the whole breast is removed. Other tissue, as well as the lymph nodes under the arm, may also be removed if it appears that cancer has spread to these areas. Our breast surgeons offer the latest procedures, including the skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomy. Additionally, our breast surgeons may partner with plastic surgeons to reconstruct the breast during the same procedure or at a later time when medically necessary. Chemotherapy Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells, and may be used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy. At Mission, our medical oncologists are experts in the tumor-specific disease processes, treatments and clinical research options. Click here to learn more about our medical oncologists Find a medical oncologist Targeted Therapy Targeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs to attack specific targets or processes of cancer cells. It may be used alone, but is most often combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. Targeted therapy only affects cancer cells and not the other cells in the body, and can stop them from growing or spreading by blocking cell signals. Hormone Therapy This is a treatment used to change the way hormones cause cancer to grow, and is typically used when tests show that the cancer cells have hormone receptors that cause the cancer to grow. It may be used to help stop or slow cancer growth. Radiation Therapy Radiation therapy is a treatment that uses X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. At Mission, our radiation oncologists specialize by tumor type. They use the latest technologies and treatments, including the CyberKnife Robotic radiosurgery system, and coordinate care with your surgeon, medical oncologist, navigator and primary care physician to ensure precise and accurate treatment. Click here to learn more Breast Program Nurse Navigator The Mission Breast Program’s dedicated nurse navigators provides personalized support and advocacy, offering education, coordination of care, resources and emotional support through each phase of care, from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship. Learn more about our Nurse Navigation Services.