Breast Cancer Program

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer (excluding skin cancers) in women. It accounts for nearly one out of every three types of cancer diagnosed in America. According to the American Cancer Society, death rates are going down. This could be the result of finding cancer earlier and improved treatments. Right now, there are about 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

OSF HealthCare provides cancer services throughout Illinois and in Escanaba, Michigan. We participate in research and have available the latest diagnostic and treatment options. This means you may have the opportunity to join clinical trials to receive breakthrough treatment using novel therapies.

Following your diagnosis, you will meet with physicians who specialize in breast surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology and other specialty areas as needed based on the type of cancer. 

Our cancer experts collaborate with you to develop a tailored treatment plan to meet your medical and emotional needs. We focus on you as a whole person, providing a patient-centered experience. We take a compassionate approach to giving you the best possible experience – and outcome.

Breast Cancers We Treat

The breast cancer specialists at OSF know identifying the type of cancer is the first step in developing an effective treatment. Our pathologists use their in-depth understanding of tumor development to accurately identify the type of breast cancer you have.

There are many types of breast cancer. The type of breast cancer typically refers to where the cancer began and whether the cancer has spread.

The most common types of breast cancer are:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma starts in a milk duct, but the cells have invaded surrounding breast tissue.
  • In situ breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS) is the earliest form/stage of breast cancer. It starts in a milk duct but has not spread into the rest of the breast tissue. 
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma starts in the lobules (milk-producing glands) and cells are found outside the lobules.

Breast cancer may also be non-invasive or invasive.

  • Non-invasive (in situ) cancer is only in the ducts. It hasn’t spread to nearby areas. If not treated, it can grow over time into a more serious, invasive type of cancer. 
  • Invasive (infiltrating) cancer has the potential to spread to nearby areas. This type is much more serious than noninvasive cancer. When it starts to spread, it can invade nearby lymph nodes first. It can then spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream and lymphatic system. Types of invasive breast cancers include:
  • HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) positive breast cancer indicates the cells receive additional signals to grow and multiply. Treatment includes chemotherapy and anti-HER2 targeted therapy.
    • Inflammatory breast cancer makes the skin of the breast look red and feel warm. The skin also looks thick and pitted, like an orange peel. Often there is no lump or tumor. While rare, it tends to be found in younger people and grows and spreads quickly.
    • Triple negative breast cancer doesn’t have estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors. It also doesn’t have an excess of the HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) protein.
    • This type tends to grow and spread faster than most other types. 

No matter where breast cancer originates in the breast, it can spread to other areas of breast tissue and lymph nodes under the armpit.

Treatments We Offer

Once the type of breast cancer is determined, our multidisciplinary team works with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. Options to treat breast cancer vary based on your health history and the type, size and location of the cancer. 

You may receive a combination of different therapies to help increase effectiveness. Treatments may be targeted to your tumor, such as surgery and radiation therapy. You may need a more systemic treatment approach, like chemotherapy, which uses the bloodstream to deliver treatment.

Rest assured, OSF offers an array of breast cancer treatments including:

Care Team

Our multidisciplinary cancer care teams provide support, treatment and guidance from surgery, chemotherapy, genetics and immunotherapy to radiation therapy, rehabilitation and survivorship. The board-certified breast cancer doctors include surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists who work with your primary care provider and other providers and support staff, such as imagers, financial navigators, dietitians, rehabilitation specialists and genetic specialists.

Breast cancer navigators are also available to guide and support you throughout your journey. They can assist in arranging appointments and follow-up tests. Their goal is to advocate, educate and eliminate any obstacles you and your family may encounter in getting you the care needed.


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