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Breast Oncology - Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center

Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center and its affiliated physicians from the faculty of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer as well as clinical research that translates directly into advanced patient care.

Why choose the Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center?

The Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann-TMC and its affiliated physicians offer:

  • Comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in a single location
  • A multidisciplinary team approach that ensures cohesive and coordinated patient care
  • Multiple ways to access team members so patients can easily ask questions and get information
  • A strong commitment to patient education and participation in making treatment decisions
  • The least disruptive and invasive approach to diagnosis and treatment for each patient
  • Treatment plans developed and implemented with minimum wait time
  • Appointments with team specialists scheduled when possible on the same day to eliminate multiple trips to the Medical Center
  • Onsite medical expertise in non-cancer-related conditions that can affect treatment
  • A clinic serving women who are at high risk for breast cancer
  • Opportunities to participate in clinical trials that result in new approaches to treatment

A multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer care

At Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-TMC, a focus on comprehensive care ensures that patients have access to all of the resources they need, but never feel passed along from doctor to doctor or lost in a medical maze. The breast cancer team, which has worked together for more than five years, has developed a highly integrated approach to care, with all of the components needed to diagnose and treat breast cancer available in a single location.

The multidisciplinary breast cancer team at Memorial Hermann-TMC includes a breast pathologist, radiologist, radiation oncologist, surgical oncologist and medical oncologist, as well as:

  • A pharmacist who works closely with the breast oncologist, reviews pharmaceutical orders and teaches patients about chemotherapy
  • A nurse navigator who coordinates care, provides an immediate point of contact, answers questions and helps patients in any way possible
  • A genetic counselor who assesses genetic risk factors and cancer patterns as well as and counsels patients on screening options and next steps
  • A social worker who helps with patient needs, including transportation, applications for benefits and making connections with social services
  • A nutritionist who designs effective dietary plans, based on patients’ preferences, to deal with the weight loss and reduced appetite that cancer patients often experience
  • A physical therapist who provides evaluation and referral services, as well as rehabilitation for conditions such as neuropathy

In addition to day-to-day communication, the cancer team meets three times a month during tumor boards and breast care planning meetings to plan and coordinate treatment, review imaging and discuss other medical issues that impact patient care.

The breast cancer team communicates actively with referring physicians, keeping them in the loop with frequent patient updates.

Accurate diagnosis

Depending on the specific patient, the first step in diagnosis after an abnormal mammogram or discovery of a suspicious mass is additional imaging (mammogram or MRI) or biopsy. When a biopsy is called for, the major options are:

  • Image guided biopsy- a procedure performed by the breast radiologist in the radiology department using local anesthesia. The biopsy is guided by imaging, most commonly mammogram or ultrasound but occasionally by MRI. The radiologist targets the suspicious mass and takes several biopsies with a needle. A clip is always placed to mark the area of the biopsy. The pathologist then looks at the tissue and gives the treatment team the diagnosis.
  • Excisional biopsy – a surgical procedure, performed on an outpatient basis, during which the area of concern is removed allowing the tissue to be evaluated by the pathologist. The radiologist targets the area to be excised by placing a small wire into the abnormality using mammogram or ultrasound just before the surgical procedure. At the time of surgery, the wire and the abnormal area of breast tissue is removed.
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy – used for precisely detecting the location and extent of cancers. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is based on the fact that lymph nodes are connected in a line (much like a railroad system). Because cancer can spread through the bloodstream, the sentinel biopsy tests the first lymph node in the circuit.

Two stand-alone additional imaging centers near the Texas Medical Center offer comprehensive breast imaging, an affiliated onsite radiologist for immediate evaluation of diagnostic mammograms, rapid turnaround of biopsy results, and specialized nurse navigators who facilitate patient care. Imaging services include:

  • CT scan
  • DEXA bone scan
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Mammography
  • MRI and open MRI
  • Nuclear medicine
  • PET/CT
  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • Full laboratory services

Exceptional treatment

Because patients frequently feel a very high degree of anxiety between the discovery of an abnormal mass and starting treatment, the multi-disciplinary team develops and implements a treatment plan as quickly as possible – usually within a week or less. Physicians explore treatment options and counsel patients, partnering with them to help them make decisions that are well informed, not based on fear or lack of information.

Treatment plans include the smallest, least disruptive surgery possible, based on the outcome of the initial biopsy.

  • Breast conservation surgery – This procedure is always followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy, which is used at more advanced stages.
  • Breast removal – A patient who undergoes removal may be a candidate for immediate reconstruction at the time of surgery, potentially eliminating the need for additional surgery and allowing surgeons to utilize more native skin in the reconstruction process.

Before breast cancer develops

The Cancer Center’s high-risk breast clinic provides imaging and counseling tailored to women who may be at a greater risk of developing breast cancer due to any of these factors:

  • A general family history of cancer
  • Atypical ductal hyperplasia
  • Globular carcinoma in-situ
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (stage 0)
  • Benign lumps
  • Multiple breast biopsies
  • Other risk factors, including no pregnancies, hormone therapy, post-menopausal obesity

Looking to the future of cancer care

Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-TMC collaborates with McGovern Medical School in a number of clinical trials. Current translational trials are studying cancer mechanisms with the goal of developing new, more individualized approaches to treatment. One of the major studies compares immune responses in patients who have and have not undergone chemotherapy prior to surgery, to determine how chemotherapy affects outcomes. The intended result of such studies is to overcome ways that cancer becomes resistant and develop highly targeted, personalized treatment plans for patients.

For more information

For more information about breast cancer services at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-TMC or to refer a patient, call 713-704-3961.

Schedule a mammogram appointment

To schedule an appointment at a TMC-area imaging center, call toll free 1-866-378-0004 or schedule online using the links below:

Memorial Hermann Imaging Center-Texas Medical Center
Memorial Hermann Imaging Center-Upper Kirby