Compassion and support

Our comprehensive approach to breast cancer care is all about what's best for you. Experience is what sets us apart.

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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, after skin cancer. Likely you know someone who has had breast cancer — and perhaps now you’ve been told that you do, too. It can be scary to hear those words, but when detected early, breast cancer is a very survivable cancer, and the breast care specialists at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center are here for you.

Hollings fights back against breast cancer with the latest diagnostic technology, innovative treatment options, comprehensive care teams, and clinical trial opportunities. Our work doesn’t end with diagnosis. Our breast doctors aim to give you the best treatment and quality of life with compassion and support.

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In good hands

You know you're in good hands at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. Here, you have access to the latest innovations in cancer treatment, including clinical trials, advanced surgical techniques, support services and survivorship planning. We are also accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

The Hollings difference

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer means that a mutation in DNA has caused some cells in the breast to change and start to grow out of control. There are a number of things that can cause a mutation, some of which you can control and some of which you can’t. But the end result — breast cancer — is relatively common. About one out of every eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer.

Breast cancers can be classified in a few different ways. You may hear that a cancer is in situ or invasive. In situ means that the cancer is still in the original place that it formed. Invasive means that it has spread into the breast. Metastatic breast cancer has spread beyond the breast into places like the bones, liver or lungs.

Breast cancers are also classified according to where they start inside the breast. Each breast contains milk ducts, which transport milk, and lobules, which produce milk. Ductal cancers start inside the ducts and lobular cancers start inside the lobules. Ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma are the most common types of breast cancer. Less common are inflammatory breast cancer, Paget disease of the breast, and angiosarcoma.

Have more questions about breast cancer? Check out our answers to common questions.

Breast cancer symptoms

It’s critical to find and detect breast cancer at its earliest stages. While you may not immediately experience any of these, typical breast cancer symptoms can include:

  • A new or unusual lump in your breast: This is the most common symptom of breast cancer. While the lump, or mass, is usually irregular and painless, it could also be round and painful. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to know how your breasts normally look and feel.
  • Swollen lymph nodes under your arms or around your collar bone.
  • Breast swelling or shrinking: There may not be a lump, but you may notice that a breast is swelling or, sometimes, getting smaller.
  • Breast or nipple pain.
  • Nipple discharge: Nipple discharge is usually caused by something other than cancer, but it’s important to get it checked out because it can sometimes be a symptom of breast cancer.
  • New retracted or inverted nipple: A retracted nipple either lies flat against the breast or points inward. Retracted nipples are sometimes present from birth, or can be caused by breastfeeding or aging. They can also sometimes be a symptom of breast cancer.
  • Unusual texture of your breast skin: Known as skin dimpling, this condition appears with a texture similar to that of an orange peel.

I had a 3D mammogram. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a 3D mammogram. They never would have found this. They never would have seen it otherwise.

Joannah Sampson, triple negative breast cancer survivor

Joannah's story
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If you have a feeling that something is not right, definitely take that and run with it. Be an advocate for yourself because if you’re not an advocate for yourself, nobody is going to be.

Danielle Lee, triple negative breast cancer survivor

Danielle's story
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In the African American culture, we don’t want to feel like we are guinea pigs for science. But I don’t see it like that. I hope my story changes the conversation in the community because medicine has come such a long way, and a big reason for that is because of clinical trials.

Varnesta Major, breast cancer survivor

Varnesta's story
Vernesta Major leans against a gate

 

Breast cancer treatment

Hollings radiation oncologist Harriet Eldredge Hindy

By bringing together breast specialists with extensive training in medical oncology, breast imaging, pathology, radiation oncology and breast surgery and reconstruction, Hollings offers a well-rounded approach to breast cancer treatment.

Hollings is accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. To achieve accreditation, centers must show that they follow the highest standards for comprehensive breast care. As part of this care, our breast cancer team offers:

Refer a breast cancer patient

To refer a breast cancer patient to Hollings, please call patient referral coordinator Sheila Scott at 843-985-0576. For benign breast patients, please call patient referral coordinator Melissa Justice at 843-985-0575.

Nurse navigator support

Our breast cancer nurse navigators will help you understand what to expect during treatment and answer questions you may have. Denise Kepecs, BSN, RN, CBCN, and Melanie Wilson, BSN, RN, OCN, are at our Charleston area locations and Kerry Reilly, BSN, RN, is at the Bluffton Breast Health Center. Patient navigator Melissa Justice, CMA, AAMA, supports benign breast and early stage breast cancer patients.

Our breast cancer experts work together to provide you with the best possible treatment. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that you benefit from the experience of specialists in every aspect of your care.

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Know your family history

If you have an increased risk of breast cancer due to your family history or genetics, or want to find out if you do, the Hollings Hereditary Cancer Clinic can help with targeted screenings, genetic counseling and testing, and personalized prevention strategies.

Hereditary Cancer

Breast Cancer Care Locations

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Downtown

86 Jonathan Lucas Street

Charleston, SC 29425

Scheduling: 843-792-9300

Mammography Services East Cooper

East Cooper Medical Pavilion

1600 Midtown Avenue

Floor: 1

Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Scheduling: 843-876-8282

Mammography Services Hollings Charleston

Hollings Cancer Center

86 Jonathan Lucas Street

Floor: 3

Charleston, SC 29425

Scheduling: 843-792-9729

Mammography North Charleston

North Area Medical Pavilion

8992 University Boulevard

Floor: 1

North Charleston, SC 29406

Scheduling: 843-876-2700

Mammography Services West Ashley

West Ashley Medical Pavilion

2060 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard

Floor: 2

Charleston, SC 29407

Scheduling: 843-792-8439

Mammography Chester

1 Medical Park Drive

Chester, SC 29706

Mammography Columbia Downtown

2435 Forest Drive

Columbia, South Carolina 29204

Mammography Elgin

40 Pinnacle Parkway

Elgin, South Carolina 29045

Mammography Florence Medical Center

805 Pamplico Highway

Florence, SC 29505

Mammography Florence Women's Pavilion

1590 Freedom Boulevard

Florence, SC 29505

Mammography Kershaw

1315 Roberts Street

Camden, South Carolina 29020

Mammography Lancaster Imaging Center

1037 West Meeting Street

Lancaster, SC 29720

Mammography Lancaster Medical Center

800 West Meeting Street

Lancaster, SC 29720

Mammography Marion

Marion Medical Center

2829 East Highway 76

Mullins, SC 29574

Hematology Oncology Florence

Florence Medical Center

Medical Mall A

805 Pamplico Highway

Suite: 315

Florence, SC 29505

Scheduling: 843-792-9300

Mammography Black River Center

3555 Williamsburg County Highway

Cades, SC 29518

MUSC Health H.F. Mabry Cancer Center

1161 Cook Road

Orangeburg, SC 29118

MUSC Breast Health Orangeburg

3000 St. Matthews Road

Orangeburg, SC 29118

mammogram

Mammograms save lives

MUSC Health’s team of fellowship-trained radiologists offer 3D mammograms at four convenient locations in the Charleston area as well as at locations across the state.

Mammograms at MUSC Health

Breast cancer statistics

According to the American Cancer Society, here are some of the most notable statistics regarding breast cancer:

  • 13% of all women, or one in eight, in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Most women who develop breast cancer are older than 45.
  • The median age for a breast cancer diagnosis is 62.
  • The rate of breast cancer diagnosis has recently increased by 0.6% per year.
  • Behind lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women.
  • Deaths from breast cancer declined about 42% between 1989 and 2021. This is likely due to increased awareness, early detection and improved treatments.

Breast cancer common questions

Have you or a loved one received a diagnosis of breast cancer? You probably have a lot of questions. There’s a lot of information to take in after a cancer diagnosis. Your doctor can answer questions specific to your care, but we have compiled a list of some of the most common questions for your reference below.

 

Latest breast cancer news