Our Cancer Program Breast Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women (after skin cancer). About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.  Although rates of breast cancer are increasing, the good news is that death rates have slowly been declinin­­­g due to both early detection and improved systemic treatments.  As treatments improve, there are now approximately 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

The biggest risk factors for breast cancer are female gender and increasing age.  Other risk factors include family history, personal history, genetic mutations, and certain benign conditions with atypical cells (ADH and ALH.)  Lifestyle related risk factors include alcohol use, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and hormone replacement therapy use after breast cancer.  For certain patients at high risk for breast cancer, medication may be recommended (chemoprevention) to decrease breast cancer risk.

While most breast cancers are sporadic, approximately 5 to 10% of breast cancers are caused by hereditary genetic mutations.  These include the BRCA gene (which is most common in the Ashkenazi Jewish population from Eastern Europe,) as well as multiple other inherited gene mutations.  If you have a strong family history of cancer, your physician can help determine whether you are a candidate for genetic testing.  White Plains Hospital has two certified genetic counselors to help patients fully understand the testing as well as the results.  

Learn more about our genetic screening program.

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Check out our blog post "New Study Indicates Some Breast Cancer Patients Can Avoid Chemotherapy" 


There are many tools for early detection of breast cancer, and these are thought to play a major role in the improved survival from breast cancer in the modern era. Screening options include tests such as mammograms, ultrasound, and breast MRI. In addition to regular clinical and self-exams, The American Cancer Society recommends that women should begin going for annual mammograms at the age of 40. Those at a high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30.

If there is an abnormality on imaging, a biopsy may be recommended.  At White Plains Hospital, this is done by the highly compassionate and skilled team of dedicated breast radiologists.  During a breast biopsy, a tissue sample is taken from your breast so that it can be microscopically examined by a pathologist who can determine whether it is benign or contains cancerous cells. While many biopsies are often benign, a breast cancer diagnosis is made by needle biopsy.  Throughout our different sites, White Plains Hospital has the capability of making the biopsy process as comfortable for our patients as possible. Our radiologists use the latest diagnostic technology and equipment, including an upright stereotactic biopsy table that allows more comfortable positioning for patients, as well as a new MRI machine that is more open than prior versions.

Learn more about our breast cancer screening program.

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