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Our Comprehensive Breast Care Program is South Carolina's most advanced.

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Breast Care Program

Diagnosis & Treatment

Cancer is personal. It can affect every part of your life. And not all cancers are created equal – what happens with one person’s disease can be completely different for someone else with the same type of cancer. That's why we will look at your case in a way that’s as individual as you are, drawing on the expertise and knowledge gained from research at South Carolina’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center.

Our Comprehensive Breast Care Program is the most advanced in South Carolina. In fact, it's the only one in the state that’s both accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and part of a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center. Our Advanced Breast Reconstruction Program offers the full spectrum of breast reconstruction options, including the DIEP flap procedure.

Diagnosis

Mammography

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women – but if detected early, the disease can usually be treated successfully. MUSC Health recommends annual mammograms for all women beginning at age 40. With locations in downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant and North Charleston, MUSC is making it easier than ever for women to schedule their annual mammogram.

Our patients benefit from:

  • Fellowship-trained radiologists who specialize in breast imaging.
  • Results read within 24 hours.
  • Same-day appointments when possible.
  • A relaxing, female-friendly atmosphere.
  • Digital mammography for faster and more accurate readings.
  • The American College of Radiology has named MUSC a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.

High-Risk Breast Cancer Program

The MUSC Health High-Risk Breast Cancer Program provides advanced screening, detection and treatment of breast cancer to women at high risk for developing the disease. Unsure if you are at high risk? This program is especially for women who have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer; a history of abnormal cells in breast biopsies; a personal history of breast cancer gene mutation known to be associated with breast cancer; and hormone-related characteristics, such as age of first period, first pregnancy and menopause onset.

Breast MRI

Another important tool for detecting breast cancer is a breast MRI, a non-invasive and very sensitive way of detecting cancer using magnetic resonance imaging. Breast MRI is typically used in conjunction with other tests, often to clarify findings from mammograms or ultrasounds.

Recent recommendations from the American Cancer Society suggest that many high-risk women should be screened routinely with breast MRI. This includes women who have a 20 percent or greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer based on common risk assessment tools such as the GAIL model. Women who have tested positive for a BRCA gene mutation or have a first-degree relative who has tested positive also should consider breast MRI screening. There are other indications as well, which is why it is very important to discuss risk factors with your doctor.

Breast MRI is most effective and convenient when it is done at a center, like MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, that also offers MRI-guided biopsy – that way patients will not have to go to multiple locations and receive repeat studies.

Stereotactic Biopsy

Stereotactic biopsy finds the exact location of a breast lump or suspicious area by using a computer and mammogram results to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast. A sample of tissue is then removed with a needle. This approach allows biopsies to be done in the mammography suite instead of the operating room.

R2 Computer-Aided Diagnosis

This technology double-checks mammograms and highlights suspicious features and abnormalities that might be indicative of cancer.

Treatments

Radiation Oncology

Hypofractionated (shorter courses) of external beam radiation therapy are more convenient and equally effective for many women with early stage breast cancer. Three-week courses of radiotherapy rather than the traditional six to seven weeks of treatment are routinely offered to eligible patients at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

The Radiation Oncology team at MUSC Health has integrated a new radiotherapy technique specifically for patients with left-sided breast cancer where radiation delivered to the heart is a major concern. The Deep Inspiration Breath Hold technique requires patients to hold their breathe as the chest is expanded and the heart is pushed down and away from your chest wall. This process helps to minimize the dose of radiation to your lungs and heart during your daily treatment. Deep Inspiration Breath Hold is the most efficient way to minimize this risk.

Breast Reconstruction

Today, women who lose one or both breasts to cancer and mastectomy can benefit from state-of-the-art opportunities in reconstruction. At MUSC Health, we believe each woman should have access to the full range of options including those for implant reconstruction as well as revolutionary techniques for natural tissue reconstruction, which our doctors have helped to advance.

We can help you determine what will work best for you and also help with choices on other issues, for example, whether to delay reconstruction or have it done at the time of mastectomy. We want you to explore and understand all the possibilities so that you will be fully satisfied with the results of your reconstruction.

MUSC Health offers numerous breast reconstruction procedure options. Your doctor can work with you to better determine which procedure is right for you based on your needs.

Clinical Trials

Our clinical trials for breast cancer offer patients access to cutting-edge therapies that may not be available anywhere else.

Patient Resources

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center offers patients assistance in dealing with the financial, physical & emotional aspects of battling cancer.

High Risk Breast Cancer Evaluation Program

The MUSC Health High Risk Breast Evaluation Program is a multidisciplinary clinic for the evaluation of patients at increased risk for the development of breast cancer, offering the services below to patients.

Risk Factors

Evaluation of personal and hereditary risk factors for developing breast cancer. 

Multidisciplinary Care

Optimal patient care through a multidisciplinary approach, including experts with specialized training in medical oncology, breast imaging and breast surgery and reconstruction.

Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center provides patients with a quantitative breast cancer and genetic risk assessment, consultation on the pros and cons of genetic testing as well as the coordination of genetic testing and interpretation of test results. 

Early Detection & Risk Reduction

Individualized options are available for earlier cancer detection and cancer risk reduction, including lifestyle modification, enhanced clinical screening, MRI screening, chemoprevention and prophylactic surgery.

Are You at Increased Risk for Developing Breast Cancer?

The cause(s) of breast cancer is not yet fully understood. Risk factors are conditions that are known to increase a person’s chance of developing cancer. Just having these conditions does not mean you will necessarily develop cancer. Additionally, cancer can form in people without any identifiable risk factors. Risk factors can be controllable (e.g., smoking) and uncontrollable (e.g., family history). Knowing your risk factors can help you to be aware of your risk and guide lifestyle and health care choices.

Increased Risk Factors

  • Older age: 80% of breast cancer cases occur in women over 50 years of age
  • Female gender: less than 1% of breast cancer cases occur in men
  • Personal history of breast and ovarian cancer
  • Family history of cancer: breast (especially males and those over forty years of age) and/or other specific cancers (ovarian, skin, prostate, colon, thyroid, pancreas)
  • Atypical hyperplasia or LCIS on previous breast biopsy
  • Inherited genetic mutations: people who carry certain gene variants (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2) are at higher risk for developing breast cancer
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption: drinking more than one to two drinks a day
  • Estrogen exposure:
    • Early menstruation – before age 12.
    • Late menopause – after age 55
    • Never pregnant
    • Late pregnancy – after age 30
  • Radiation: especially during younger years
  • High breast density on mammogram
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
Margie Bear
Patient Story

Margie Bear

Other Team Members

Advance Practice Providers

  • Jen Diaz MS, AOCNP, CRNP
  • Jennifer Ridgeway PA-C
  • Laurrie Rumpp RN, MSN, APRN-C