Breast cancer care at Mayo

A doctor examining a patient

Mayo Clinic specialists provide compassionate care for people with breast cancer.

People with breast cancer who seek care at Mayo Clinic will find dedicated breast cancer specialists who provide expert, personalized care using the latest treatment innovations and technology.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Tailoring Breast Cancer Screening to Each Woman’s Risk

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Breast health specialists in the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic coordinate care for people with breast cancer. These internal medicine doctors who focus solely on caring for people with breast cancer and other breast conditions will meet with you to understand your needs and make arrangements for necessary tests and appointments. Often, your appointments can be coordinated over a matter of days in one facility.

Mayo Clinic offers a truly integrated practice, with a variety of specialists regularly working together and meeting to discuss cases. This ensures that you receive whole-person care that takes into account all of your needs. Your care team carefully weighs all of your treatment options to create a plan that's personalized for you.

Your breast cancer care team might include:

If you have other health conditions that could be affected by cancer treatment, your team may include additional specialists. For instance, cardiologists from the Cardio-Oncology Clinic may join your team if you have concerns related to your heart. If there are concerns about your kidneys, nephrologists from the Onco-Nephrology Clinic may join your team.

Doctors discussing cases

Mayo Clinic doctors from multiple specialties work together to determine the best treatment for each person with breast cancer.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Mayo Clinic doctors have access to the latest technology and techniques to diagnose and treat breast cancer, including clinical trials investigating the latest in medical innovation. Your breast cancer team keeps up on the latest evidence and incorporates this into your treatment plan.

Breast cancer diagnosis begins with high-quality breast imaging that draws from:

  • Highly trained staff. Imaging is done by radiologists who specialize in breast imaging, including many who've completed additional, advanced training programs.
  • Specialized screening. Experts create screening programs for people with dense breast tissue and those with a high risk of breast cancer using supplemental screening techniques.
  • Latest technology. Advanced imaging techniques include digital mammogram, 3D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis), breast MRI and molecular breast imaging (MBI).
  • Ongoing research. Breast imaging researchers are studying new technology for diagnosing breast cancer, including dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI and contrast-enhanced digital mammogram.

The expertise and training of Mayo Clinic breast radiologists combined with advanced technology means your diagnosis can be made quickly and accurately.

A doctor talking with a patient before radiation therapy

Mayo Clinic breast cancer specialists offer the latest treatment options designed to increase the effectiveness of treatment and reduce side effects.

Breast cancer treatment innovations are improving the ability to control cancer while reducing the impact of treatment on your daily life and increasing your satisfaction with your appearance after surgery. Mayo Clinic achieves this by:

  • Offering a full range of treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and clinical trials.
  • Reducing the risk of heart damage in left-sided breast cancer by using innovative radiation therapy techniques to shape the energy beams around the tumor, such as proton therapy.
  • Limiting lymph node removal to reduce the risk of surgery-related lymphedema by using techniques such as sentinel lymph node biopsy and neoadjuvant therapy.
  • Avoiding the need for a second operation after lumpectomy with intraoperative pathology and frozen section analysis — procedures that involve pathologists analyzing tissue samples during surgery to make sure all the cancer is removed during the operation.
  • Condensing treatment to less than two weeks so that people with small, low-risk cancers experience the smallest impact on their daily lives with an expedited breast cancer treatment combining lumpectomy and accelerated partial breast irradiation.
  • Improving your confidence in your appearance after surgery by using innovative techniques that optimize the appearance of your reconstructed breast while maintaining excellent cancer control (oncoplastic surgery), such as combining lumpectomy with a breast lift or breast reduction.
  • Utilizing advanced surgical techniques to perform muscle-sparing breast reconstruction techniques to create a new breast using your own tissue.

The range of treatments available at Mayo Clinic means your care team has many options to create a personalized treatment plan that works for you.

A doctor meeting with a patient

Experienced Mayo Clinic specialists take the time to help you understand your options and help you feel confident in making decisions about your care.

Experience you can trust

Mayo Clinic doctors have extensive experience caring for people with breast cancer:

  • More than 12,000 people seek breast cancer care each year.
  • Nearly 1,000 people undergo breast cancer surgery each year.

Research shows that people who are treated for breast cancer at medical centers that treat many cases of breast cancer have better outcomes than do people treated at medical centers that treat breast cancer less frequently.

Mayo Clinic doctors specialize in care for:

  • All types of breast cancer including rare types, such as angiosarcoma, inflammatory breast cancer, Paget's disease of the breast and phyllodes tumor.
  • All stages of breast cancer from precancerous and noninvasive tumors to metastatic cancer.
  • People with a high risk of breast cancer based on a strong family history or the presence of genes that increase the risk receive care through services such as the High Risk Breast Clinic. Experts in this clinic develop personalized risk-management plans. The plans offer options that might include additional screening, breast cancer chemoprevention and preventive surgeries, such as prophylactic mastectomy and prophylactic oophorectomy.
  • Breast cancer survivors receive supportive therapy and continuing care during and after treatment to control side effects and restore function.
A doctor explaining results to a patient

At Mayo Clinic, specialists consider your goals and preferences when designing a personalized treatment plan.

Personalized breast cancer treatment

Your breast cancer care team works closely with you to create a personalized treatment plan based on your particular situation, as well as your needs and goals.

Elements of a personalized care plan might include:

  • Reviewing all available treatment options. You'll have the opportunity to meet with a variety of specialists to help you understand all of your treatment options. Your appointments will be coordinated so you can make a timely decision about your care.
  • Creating convenient treatment schedules that reduce your need for additional travel and time when possible, such as lumpectomy with accelerated partial breast irradiation and mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction. Mayo Clinic doctors can work with your local doctors to coordinate chemotherapy and other medicines, so you won't always need to travel for care.
  • Coordinating supportive services. During and after treatment, you'll be connected to specialists who can help you heal and regain function, such as those who focus on rehabilitation, integrative medicine, sleep, women's health, nutrition, stress management and breast cancer survivorship.
  • Tailoring treatment based on genetics. Mayo Clinic doctors use precision medicine for breast cancer to choose treatments based on your genetic makeup or the genetics of your cancer cells. Examples include testing for CYP2D6 before prescribing tamoxifen and analyzing tumor cells to select targeted drug treatments.
  • Connecting you to other breast cancer survivors. Your care team can connect you with support groups and mentorship programs that pair you with a cancer survivor who can answer questions and provide support.


Paula Hill, patient: My name is Paula Hill. I have lived here in the valley for over 30 years. I'm the mother of four grown children and the wife of a retired firefighter. I had been for a routine mammogram and the results came back normal. Shortly following that, I had my annual exam with my regular GYN, who did a breast exam and found a lump. I then got a phone call a few days later saying that it was, in fact, cancer. And that I should start investigating treatment. But I was also familiar with Mayo Clinic because my father had been treated about five years previous with some very cutting edge technology for a heart condition. So I included Mayo in my search for treatment knowing that they had probably the best and most advanced team available.

Barbara Pockaj, M.D., Surgical Oncologist, Mayo Clinic: I was the first one that Paula saw when she came to Mayo Clinic. And that's not uncommon in patients who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. They come and meet with the surgeon first.

Paula Hill: When my husband and I got home that day we knew that Mayo was really where we wanted to be. The treatment plan that was laid out for me was six months of chemotherapy, followed by surgery, followed by 20 rounds of radiation, and then one year of Herceptin treatments. But what I liked about the plan was that surgery wasn't first. And that they were taking an opportunity to shrink the tumor so that there was a very good chance I could have just a lumpectomy versus a full mastectomy and that really appealed to me.

Dr. Pockaj: What I told Paula she had good news, bad news. Bad news is she had the breast cancer and it was an aggressive breast cancer. The good news is these aggressive breast cancers really respond to treatment.

Donald Northfelt, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Breast Clinic at Mayo Clinic: After we had reviewed her case we recognized that she was qualified to participate in a clinical trial that we had going on at the time. This trial is called the I-SPY 2 trial. And it was a study of various treatment options for locally advanced breast cancer. The study included testing of new drugs specifically designed to work against the HER2 protein and in that way to favorably treat her cancer.

Paula Hill: One of the things we wanted to know was how far advanced the trial was and how much success they'd had with the drug. So we learned that the trial was in the later phases. That it had already been used on human beings. I wasn't the first. And that all of the regular protocol treatment for breast cancer--my particular breast cancer--would also be included in addition to the trial drug. So I would not miss out on any treatment that I would normally get. This would be in addition to, in hopes that it would shrink the tumor even further.

Dr. Pockaj: Paula did go on to the I-SPY trial and we had really remarkable response. She had a big tumor, with lymph nodes positive, and after it was done, we had the imaging and nothing showed up on imaging. That doesn't always mean we don't find anything at surgery, but it means it shrunk a lot and we have really all the options open.

Dr. Northfelt: This is why we come to work every day. We hope to see these kinds of outcomes for our patients. We're even more grateful when we see it happen in the context of a clinical trial. In the clinical trial, new ideas are being applied to the treatment of cancer. We're always so hopeful that those are going to lead to better outcomes for our patients.

Paula Hill: I actually have resumed many--well, I've resumed my whole life. And I have a completely different outlook on life now. I think I'm much happier, less picky, not so much a perfectionist, and I really just enjoy everything that comes my way.


The Mayo Clinic experience and patient stories

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care like they've never experienced. See the stories of satisfied Mayo Clinic patients.

Expertise and rankings

Surgeons working in an operating room

Mayo Clinic specialists draw on their expertise to provide you with exactly the care you need.

Mayo Clinic doctors are widely respected for their expertise and experience in diagnosing and treating breast cancer.

Nationally recognized expertise

Outside organizations recognize Mayo Clinic breast cancer specialists through accreditations, grants and rankings:

  • Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center meets the strict standards for a U.S. National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center. These standards recognize scientific excellence and a multispecialty approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
  • Mayo Clinic is one of a select group of medical centers in the United States to be recognized as a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for breast cancer research, funded by the National Cancer Institute. To earn a highly competitive SPORE grant, institutions must demonstrate a high degree of collaboration between first-rate scientists and clinicians and show excellence in translational research projects.
  • Mayo Clinic doctors and researchers participate in research cooperatives, such as the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, which gives people with cancer access to the latest clinical trials.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is ranked as the top hospital in Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, is ranked as the top hospital in Arizona, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, is ranked the top hospital in Florida.

Sharing expertise with the community

Mayo Clinic breast cancer specialists use their expertise in the community by participating in:

  • Breast cancer screening services for underserved groups and community clinics.
  • Appointments via video technology for Alaska Native women with a high risk of breast cancer.
  • Community awareness events.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

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