Rush breast cancer experts help you create a treatment plan for your needs. From diagnosis to surgery to reconstruction, we support you each step of the way.
The most common forms of breast cancer are ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive carcinoma.
Breast cancer is typically detected by breast self exams or regular mammography. Regular mammograms and breast self exams can help detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable and most curable.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away:
- A lump near or in the breast or underarm
- Unexplained swelling of the breast
- Skin irritation or changes
- A nipple that has become sunken (inverted)
- Nipple discharge
Breast Cancer Diagnosis at Rush
If you suspect you may have breast cancer, Rush can help you get a mammogram quickly.
- Rush Breast Imaging Services are available at multiple locations across the Rush System: in Chicago (South Loop, Lakeview and our downtown campus), Oak Park, Oak Brook and Aurora/Fox Valley.
- Our breast imaging experts can identify potential breast cancer at early stages; they work with Rush pathologists and other breast cancer specialists to confirm a breast cancer diagnosis.
- Your diagnosis will include whether your cancer is linked to the HER2 gene. Whether you are HER2 positive or negative will affect your treatment.
Breast Cancer Treatment at Rush
At Rush, we design a breast cancer treatment plan customized for you.
Some patients may be seen in our comprehensive breast cancer clinic in downtown Chicago. At our comprehensive clinic, you may ask questions and explore your treatment options with an entire team.
You may also choose to split your treatment across the Rush System, with chemotherapy in Lisle or Aurora/Fox Valley, for example, to be closer to home. We work with you to find the best fit for treatment.
- A nurse navigator can help you learn as much you want to know about breast cancer. We know some of our patients want to know as much as possible, while others prefer to take it one step at a time.
- Their goal is to help you feel better prepared to explore your treatment options — in whatever ways you want that information.
- They will also work with you and your breast cancer providers to ensure you can seamlessly access care across Rush.
- Once you have completed treatment, they work with you to create a breast cancer survivor plan.
Rush medical oncologists provide breast cancer chemo and other medical therapies in Chicago, Lisle, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley.
Your care team will determine your plan based on your specific type of breast cancer, its stage and your overall health, among other factors. It may include some of the following:
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells
- Cold cap for chemo (also known as cooling caps) can be used at Rush University Medical Center during chemo to help you keep your hair
- Hormone therapy uses drugs like tamoxifen (which block cancer cells from using your hormones to grow) and aromatase inhibitors (which reduce the hormone production in your body)
- Biologic therapy uses drugs like Herceptin (trastuzumab) that directly target the cancer cells to help your body fight cancer
Breast Cancer Surgery
Surgical oncologists perform breast cancer surgery at downtown Chicago and Aurora/Fox Valley.
- Mastectomy: Rush offers a variety of types of mastectomy (surgery to remove one or both breasts), including nipple-sparing mastectomy and skin-sparing mastectomy.
- Lumpectomy: Rush offers lumpectomy surgery to remove a breast tumor and some of the normal tissue around it.
- Marking tumors before surgery: Rush University Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center offer magnetic seed localization to mark breast tumors before lumpectomy. Magnetic seed localization addresses many of the complications that wire localization presents, such as discomfort.
Breast Radiation Therapy
Rush offers a variety of types of radiation therapy at multiple locations, including Chicago, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley.
Techniques and therapies include the following:
- Prone breast irradiation: You lie on your stomach so that your heart and lungs are less exposed to radiation during treatment.
- Accelerated breast irradiation: This type of whole breast irradiation cuts treatment time in half and gives the same benefits. Accelerated partial breast irradiation can help preserve the breast in early-stage cancer.
- Deep inspiration breath hold: This technique helps minimize the amount of radiation exposure to your heart — while not affecting the amount delivered to the tumor — during treatment for cancer in the left breast.
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT): Radiation is delivered during surgery to avoid weeks of radiation therapy following surgery.
- Brachytherapy: High-dose brachytherapy (a form of internal radiation therapy), which can significantly shorten radiation treatment.
Your breast surgeon will discuss your breast reconstruction options with you before your breast cancer surgery. Your surgeon will also connect you to a Rush plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction.
Reconstruction after mastectomy is available in two ways:
- Breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy
- Delayed breast reconstruction, in which your reconstruction may take place after your mastectomy
After treatment, you may be referred to a Rush occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can help you do the following:
- Address lymphedema and other side effects from treatment
- Overcome difficulties performing everyday tasks caused by reduced arm strength from treatment
Genetic Testing and Counseling
Rush offers genetic testing and counseling for people with a family history of breast cancer.
- If you are from a high-risk family, testing may help you find out if you carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 or another genetic mutation that increases your breast cancer risk.
Rush offers a variety of support services to help your emotional and physical well-being during treatment. These include the following:
Rush Excellence in Breast Cancer Care
- Nationally ranked experts focused on you: Our cancer specialists are ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. They welcome your questions and will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan to improve your quality of life and well-being.
- Access to leading-edge treatments: At Rush, you'll have access to treatment you won't find elsewhere through a number of clinical trials that are looking into new ways to fight breast cancer.
- Care where — and when — you need it: Breast cancer treatment requires regular visits, many weekly. Once treatment is over, you may also require lifelong follow-up care. Our breast cancer specialists will meet you closer to home at convenient locations, including Chicago, Lisle, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley.
- Monitoring your heart health during treatment: At Rush University Medical Center, our breast cancer team includes a cardio-oncologist. This is a heart expert who specializes in monitoring your heart health during your chemo and radiation therapy and after you finish cancer treatment.
- Cold cap for chemo: Losing your hair during breast cancer treatment can be devastating. That's why Rush offers cold cap therapy (also known as cooling cap or scalp cooling) to reduce your chances of losing your hair during chemotherapy.
- Breast imaging centers of excellence: Rush's five breast imaging centers are designated as centers of excellence by the American College of Radiology. This designation recognizes Rush's expertise, advanced technology and commitment to the highest standards of breast cancer screening.
- Supporting your continued health after treatment: Rush offers services to help alleviate the side effects you may experience after breast cancer treatment. You’ll have access to services like occupational therapy (for lymphedema) and a new vaginal laser treatment called MonaLisa Touch (for vaginal dryness). Your care at Rush doesn’t stop at the end of treatment — we’re here to support you long-term.