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We know you don’t have time to wait. So we put all our women’s imaging technology together. That means all of your treatment, your care, clinical trials, your support team is right here, in one place. So you receive answers fast. And humankindness even faster.

Breast and Gynecologic Cancer At A Glance

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Symptoms

A lump in the breast or under the arm may be a sign of breast cancer. Any change to the size or shape of the breast or nipple, unexpected discharge, skin irritation or changes, or pain in the breast can indicate breast cancer. However, most breast cancer patients aren’t experiencing symptoms when they are diagnosed. There are several types of gynecologic cancers. The most common of them are ovarian, uterine, cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Symptoms vary depending on the type, but usually involve pelvic pain, swelling, bleeding, or abnormal growth in the affected region.

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Steps to Diagnosis

If your annual mammogram or other screening reveals potential breast cancer, your physician may refer you to a specialist. You may undergo a biopsy or other diagnostic tests, as well as a new physical exam, a medical history review, and in some cases, a referral to a genetic counselor. At Dignity Health – Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, we offer 3-D mammography with easy online scheduling through InQuicker. Schedule your appointment today. If gynecologic cancer is suspected, your referral may be to a gynecologic oncologist. Testing options include biopsy, imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound, and a more extensive physical exam.

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Common Concerns

In America, every woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. It is the most common cancer in the US. Men can develop breast cancer, but it is a less common occurrence. Similarly, one in 20 women will be affected by a gynecologic cancer of some type in their lifetime. Early detection and screening is key for exposure to HPV (Human Papillomavirus) for cervical cancers, and some vaginal and vulvar cancers.

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Prevention

Regular screenings are the best way to catch cancer early. That includes annual mammograms for breast cancer, and the Pap test, HPV test, and regular screenings for gynecologic cancer. If you are under 26, an HPV vaccine can help prevent many types of gynecologic cancers. You can also minimize your risk of cancer by eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet and exercising 3 of more hours per week to maintain a normal body weight (BMI of less than 25). Limiting your alcohol consumption can also significantly lower your risk.

Treatment

Your care team will carefully consider and discuss treatment options that are right for you, based on the type of malignancy, genetic profile, patient lifestyle, and individual resources.


Surgery

Removal of the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue. This can range from minimally-invasive or robot-assisted surgery to a complete mastectomy.


Brachytherapy and Radiation Therapy

High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, are used to kill cancer cells directly. We also have expertise in brachytherapy, which is high-dose radiation therapy that delivers radiation precisely to the tumor bed. This approach spares healthy tissue and minimizes the after effects of the radiation.


Chemotherapy

Intravenous and/or oral medication that attacks and kills cancer cells in the body.


Targeted Therapy

Therapy focused on blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells.


Hormone Therapy

Therapy designed to block the effects of hormones that are stimulating cancer cell growth.

Photo Credit: Nick Merrick

Our Approach

There’s nobody quite like you. That’s why your cancer care plan should be completely built around you. Our patient-centric approach will tailor treatment to your needs and offer the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. These include cancer-specific trials, as well as general trials based on our patient’s individual molecular and genetic makeup.

Our interdisciplinary team considers the right care plan from multiple perspectives, often consulting with internal experts to gather up-to-the-moment insight on treatment options.  

Then, your course of treatment will be designed to suit your exact personal medical needs, using medicine to do the most good while remaining minimally invasive. That means we’re focused not just on eradicating the disease, but on preserving your quality of life before, during, and after your treatment.

We are here to help you heal as a whole person.  Wherever your care path leads, you can be sure our entire team will be there with you every step of the way.

“Our team is organized around our patients and their particular type of cancer. That means you’re diagnosed by a pathologist who specializes in gynecologic pathology, who works with gynecologic oncologists and radiologists. We are all experts in gynecologic cancer.”

John Farley, MD
Gynecologic Surgical Oncology
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Please contact us to for more information about other cancers and conditions we treat including:

  • Cervical
  • Fallopian
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease
  • Ovarian
  • Peritoneal
  • Uterine
  • Vaginal
  • Vulvar

Patient Testimonials

“Having a doctor like Dr. Wendt was really a blessing for me, my husband, and for our family.”

“The entire team that has been taking care of me since diagnosis has blown me away – they are so super caring.”

Continuing Support

Wherever your individual care plan takes you, we’ll work closely with you to understand your preferences, and your needs – and be sure any additional support is ready when you need it, including:

  • Dietary or nutrition advisors, providing special focus and attention for chemo patients
  • Genetic counselors to help you understand your risk factors
  • Social workers dedicated to easing your emotional burdens and helping with community benefits
  • Financial counselors to help you understand the financial aspect and work with you to reduce the burden when possible
  • Specialty pharmacy liaisons who help authorize your prescriptions and educate you on managing side effects and taking your medicine properly
  • Nurse navigators to help guide you throughout the cancer institute, every step of the way
  • Physical and rehabilitation therapists who provide integrated care alongside your primary care plan