The Penn State Health Approach to Breast Care

At Penn State Health Breast Center our patients and their families come first. We offer comprehensive, family-friendly care, from preventive screening to advanced diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and other breast conditions.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer — we focus on early detection, the most effective therapies and research breakthroughs. As an academic medical center and in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, we’re on the leading edge of breast cancer research, continually seeking better ways to diagnose and treat breast cancer. That means you can get innovative care you won’t find anywhere else in Pennsylvania.

You can get all the services you need right here, delivered by an expert team of breast care specialists. You’ll receive innovative treatment and compassionate support every step of the way, from early detection to survivorship. We understand the needs of women and their families and provide care for the whole person — body, mind and spirit.

When you choose Penn State Health, you can depend on personal attention and the latest approaches to find and treat breast cancer.

Complete Care for Breast Conditions

We use the latest approaches to detect breast cancer at the earliest stages, including 3D mammograms (tomosynthesis) and breast ultrasound. You get complete care from a dedicated team of experienced specialists — from breast imaging technologists to expert oncologists and surgeons who specialize in minimally invasive approaches.

You work with a team that guides you through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. We partner with you and your family to keep you well-informed and involved every step of the way. We draw from the latest treatments develop a personalized care plan that offers you the best results.

As part of the Penn State Cancer Institute, we offer a wealth of cancer care services under one roof. You benefit from all the available resources, from risk assessments and genetic counseling to nutrition support before, during and after treatment. You can also take part in art therapy and other offerings to nourish your soul. We combine leading-edge treatment with personal attention to give you the care and support to heal.

Support Groups

Moving Forward

You can meet other women diagnosed with breast cancer to share experience, receive support and give strength to each other during and after cancer treatment...

You can meet other women diagnosed with breast cancer to share experience, receive support and give strength to each other during and after cancer treatment. Family and significant others are welcome to attend this free group. It’s held on the second Monday of the month, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Penn State Health Breast Center, room 1710 A & B. For more information or to register, contact Nichole Cook at 717-531-7492.

FORCE

This support group for BRCA gene mutation carriers offers information, support, awareness and advocacy for individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian and related...

This support group for BRCA gene mutation carriers offers information, support, awareness and advocacy for individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancers. For more information, call 717-531-1631.

Pink Ribbon Program™

The Pink Ribbon Program is a therapeutic exercise program developed by a survivor for patients and survivors. It’s appropriate for all fitness levels and incorporates...

The Pink Ribbon Program is a therapeutic exercise program developed by a survivor for patients and survivors. It’s appropriate for all fitness levels and incorporates your doctor’s exercise recommendations. The program helps stretch and strengthen your shoulder, chest, back and abdominal muscles. The exercises improve your range of motion in the areas affected by recent or past breast cancer surgery. For more information, contact Jennifer Price at 717-531-7075.

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Experts in Care

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Dr. Daleela Dodge, Breast Surgeon at Penn State Health, shares breast cancer insights in a Facebook Live interview.

Why Choose Penn State Health for Breast Care

Women and families choose us for our comprehensive services designed around women’s breast health needs.

Nationally Recognized Breast Care

Our outstanding team of specialists and advanced technology sets us apart. The Penn State Health Breast Center is:

  • Accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.
  • Recognized as a National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and is also FDA approve

Expert, Team-Based Care Designed for You

You work with a multidisciplinary team of cancer doctors, nurses, imaging technologists, genetic counselors and other specialists to give you unmatched care and support. You'll work with a nurse coordinator who will help arrange services, connect you with resources for you and your family and answer questions.

As an academic medical center, we can offer promising treatments through clinical trials — therapies you won’t find anywhere else nearby. Your care team will develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. We make sure you and your family have the information you need to make well-informed choices about your health.

Breast Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

Our breast cancer experts are at the forefront of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our team is continually looking for better ways to find and treat breast cancer. When you come here, you work with knowledgeable cancer experts who are dedicated to your health and well-being. Find out if a breast cancer clinical trial is right for you.

Conditions Treated

  • Breast cancer
  • Nipple discharge
  • Abnormal mammograms
  • Breast mass
  • Breast pain
  • High right for breast cancer
  • Breast infections
  • Second opinions for benign disease and breast cancer

Meet Millie, a patient at the Breast Center. Millie, her caregivers, and her support team talk about diagnoses, treatment options, and the decisions they made.

See more videos featuring breast cancer survivors and other members of our breast cancer team.

Erin, a patient at the Breast Cancer, had a high-risk family history and a diagnosis at age 33. Hear her success story.

See more videos featuring breast cancer survivors and other members of our breast cancer team.

Risks of Breast Implants - FAQs

You may have heard recent media reports regarding breast implants and a rare form of cancer called Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, (BIA-ALCL). The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently updated information regarding BIA-ALCL and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is working closely with the FDA to monitor the disease. The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center wants its breast implant patients to be informed about BIA-ALCL and the FDA’s recommendations related to this disease.

What is breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)?

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare type of lymphoma, or cancer of the immune cells. ALCL is considered a “blood cancer” and is not breast cancer. Breast implant-associated ALCL is a distinct type of ALCL involving the capsule or fluid surrounding a breast implant.

What causes BIA-ALCL?

he American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), ASERF and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not found a specific factor which causes BIA-ALCL. Implant texturing, bacteriologic contamination and genetic factors have been implicated and are undergoing further study. Bacteria that cause inflammation have been found in areas surrounding the affected breast, which could contribute to disease.

What are the symptoms of BIA-ALCL?

Most people are diagnosed when they seek medical treatment for implant-related symptoms such as pain, lumps, swelling, fluid collection, or asymmetry that developed after their initial surgical sites were fully healed.  In reported cases, BIA-ALCL was diagnosed as long as 32 years after (and on average, eight years) following the implant surgery.

How is BIA-ALCL diagnosed?

If you develop swelling in the breast area surrounding the implant, you should undergo an ultrasound scan. Mammograms are not useful in diagnosing BIA-ALCL.

How common is breast implant-associated ALCL?

There are an estimated 10-11 million women worldwide with breast implants. While total numbers vary in the scientific literature, there have been 100-250 known cases of ALCL in women with breast implants worldwide. Fewer than 10 patients are diagnosed per year with this disease. The only study demonstrating an association between breast implants and BIA-ALCL estimated an incidence of 1 in 300,000.

Are all women with breast implants at equal risk for developing breast implant-associated ALCL?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the association of ALCL and breast implants is roughly the same for women receiving implants for aesthetic cosmetic purposes and for reconstructive purposes. The association appears to be the same for saline, silicone and polyurethane implants. However all known cases of breast implant-associated ALCL have involved textured implants, rather than smooth implants.

Are textured implants safe to use?

Evidence suggests that textured implants can cause more inflammation compared to smooth implants and increase risk of BIA-ALCL. Penn State physicians have observed a connection between textured implants and occurrence of BIA- ALCL and have discontinued use of textured implants for safety of our patients. It is best to talk to your physician about known risks and potential complications associated with the type of implants used. 

If I have had breast implants should I be screened for BIA-ALCL?

If you have not experienced any symptoms or changes in breast associated with BIA-ALCL then you do not need more than routine check-ups.  If you experience a change in her breasts – especially if there is swelling or a lump – you should undergo examination and appropriate imaging, including ultrasound and fine needle aspiration of any fluid surrounding the implant.

Should I consider having my implants removed to lower my risk?

There is no current recommendation for additional screening or removal of implants for women with no symptoms. From what is known about this association between implants and ALCL, the FDA recommends women do not change their routine medical care and follow-up. Contact your plastic surgeon if you notice swelling, fluid collection or unexpected changes in breast shape. Have regular imaging evaluations as recommended by your provider, including mammograms and, if you have silicone implants, periodic MRI to detect ruptures. The FDA and the Institute of Medicine maintain that breast implants do not impair breast health or cause breast cancer, and scientific evidence continues to support that FDA-approved breast implants have a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.

How is breast implant-associated ALCL treated?

When breast implants are placed in the body, they are inserted behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. Over time, a fibrous scar called a capsule develops around the implant separating it from the rest of the breast. Treatment of breast implant-associated ALCL for most patients is removal of the implants and any mass associated with the capsule that held the implants. In all but a few cases, the disease has been fully resolved by this surgery alone. The majority of patients require no additional treatment.

What is the prognosis of patients that are diagnosed with breast implant-associated ALCL?

This form of ALCL tends to progress slowly and cause few symptoms. The majority of patients may be adequately treated with removal of both the implant and the capsule. As with other forms of lymphoma, however, breast implant-associated ALCL can be aggressive, and some cases reported included disease spread to the lymph nodes and death.

Where can I find more information on BIA-ALCL?

Additional information and resources on BIA-ALCL are available online at www.plasticsurgery.org/alcl and by searching "ALCL" on RADAR.

The information in this document reflects the latest understanding and recommendations available on the topic from the FDA, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and was compiled from resources available at the links below.

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