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Breast Cancer

Screening and Diagnosis | Personalized Treatment | Research and Clinical Trials | Additional Patient Support

Breast cancer patients make up the highest percentage of Kellogg Cancer Center patients, and NorthShore’s comprehensive, multidisciplinary breast health program is one of the largest academic multispecialty practices in the state of Illinois. NorthShore was the first Center in the Chicago region to be accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. NorthShore is also designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. These distinctions reflect our high-quality, integrated, patient-centered care from an established team of specialists.

For patients diagnosed with breast cancer,  the experienced, collaborative team of specialists at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center and the Center for Breast Health combine the most advanced scientific knowledge and technology with a comprehensive and compassionate approach to breast cancer treatment.

Drawing from the diverse experience of physicians, surgeons, nurses, researchers and a host of other highly trained healthcare professionals, the Kellogg Cancer Center team works collaboratively and is dedicated to putting patients—and families—at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality breast cancer treatment and care.

Newly diagnosed patients have the added support of a specialized oncology nurse navigator to guide them through their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Screening

Dedicated to breast cancer prevention, our team places a major emphasis on early detection and performs more than 90,000 mammograms annually at eight screening facilities. Fast-track scheduling for diagnostic procedures and same-day screening mammogram appointments are available. NorthShore offers state-of-the-art imaging including digital mammogram, ultrasound and MRI, combined with the equally important benefit of specially trained radiologists with substantial experience in interpreting breast imaging, which has been shown to improve the rate of cancer detection.

The Center for Breast Health is also one of the first in the Chicagoland area to offer the Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) procedure, a non-invasive, adjunctive breast cancer screening procedure for asymptomatic patients with dense breast tissue. This innovative ultrasound technology, offered at all four of NorthShore’s hospitals, creates 3D images of the breasts, which our trained physicians and technologists examine alongside standard mammograms to evaluate multiple layers of breast tissue. The procedure has improved the early detection rates in those whose cancer may not be visible in a standard mammogram, and provides results that our research team will use as part of a prospective study on the results of the ultrasound.

Our High Risk Breast Program educates individuals about their risk for breast cancer and whether they need additional tests or visits in the clinic—or if they can be reassured that their risk is not greater than the general population. We believe that through education and research, we can empower women to feel more comfortable about their breast health, to be proactive for their overall health and to create an important information legacy for their children and future generations.

Personalized Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer treatments vary greatly from patient to patient. Once a breast cancer diagnosis is made, our focus quickly turns to designing a personalized treatment plan for the patient. Breast cancer treatment is focused in two areas:

  •  Local management, like its name suggests, consists of removal of the breast mass or abnormal imaging findings and sampling of the lymph nodes. A technique known as sentinel lymph node mapping is generally performed to find if breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and determines if additional lymph nodes need to be removed. A lumpectomy and radiation therapy or mastectomy are used to complete the local control of the primary tumor in the breast. NorthShore is also one of the only hospitals in the state of Illinois which currently offers the use of radioactive seeds for some lumpectomy procedures, including partial-breast radiation. This technique improves the surgical management and outcomes of our breast cancer patients. 
  • Systematic management is the approach taken to rid the body of any cancer that has spread, or to prevent the cancer from spreading. Once local therapy has been defined, factors are identified in individual patients to indicate whether endocrine therapy, chemotherapy or both is appropriate for additional breast cancer treatment in order to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer locally or elsewhere in the body. Our team continues to research novel approaches to follow tumor responses to certain therapies to determine the best course of action for each of our patients.

Every week, our multidisciplinary team meets in a multidisciplinary conference to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. For breast cancer, your team may include your medical oncologistsurgeon, radiation oncologist, oncology nurse, geneticist, pathologist, nutritionist, mammographer,pharmacist, social worker and researchers, all focused on you. This "meeting of the minds" provides critical input, resulting in an individualized care plan outlining the best course of action for each patient's breast cancer treatment.

Patients are at the center of our multidisciplinary team, and Kellogg staff arrange for them to be seen by their multidisciplinary specialists at one appointment, not only for their convenience but to provide a consensus on their breast cancer treatment plan. Our use of one of the most advanced Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems in the country enhances our open communication and promotes collaboration in our patient care.

Research and Clinical Trials

A robust research program includes national and regional clinical trials for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients as well as for patients with metastatic disease. NorthShore's team of breast cancer experts are active participants and leaders in regional and national research, academic and advocacy organizations. Physicians use knowledge gained from their involvement at this level to continually enhance breast cancer treatment options based on the latest findings and research.

Our academic affiliation with the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine provides access to an even greater array of trials for Kellogg Cancer Center patients. The NorthShore breast team is currently collaborating with University of Chicago breast surgeons and researchers on projects looking at decision aids for  surgical decision making and measuring cell free DNA to monitor response to chemotherapy. We have a dedicated research staff that works with patients to help determine if they meet criteria for eligibility in clinical trials.

The Center for Advanced Imaging conducts research into new MRI techniques of the breast and our highly regarded Center for Medical Genetics helps families identify genetic risk factors associated with breast cancer development through the evaluation of genetic risk scores. Additionally, our team can determine if a particular genetic variation is present in the breast cancer tumor and offer highly targeted drug therapies to improve outcomes. Our breast cancer tissue bank includes samples allowing us to perform translational studies that relate biological tissue characteristics to outcomes. Our physicians have also received funding which will allow them to continue to research and utilize the latest breast imaging technology for the benefit of our patients. 

NorthShore is the first in the nation to provide our patients and their family members with Health Heritage, a secure tool that helps individuals create a complete family health history and personalized risk reports.

Additional Patient Support

The Kellogg Cancer Center’s unique services and resources assist patients and family members with a variety of challenges they may face from breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and beyond. A wide array of services are available to patients through the Center for Breast Health that include a Lymphedema Treatment Program, integrative medicine and patient-to-patient support, to name a few. Additional support services are available to patients that include our integrative medicine services and financial advocacy, to name a few.

At NorthShore, we know that the end of breast cancer treatment is not the end of the cancer experience. Our Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program helps to ensure the long-term health and quality-of-life for cancer survivors.

For More Information

For more information on breast cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.570.2112.