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Breast Cancer Program

Our Program

Our breast care team provides prompt, compassionate, comprehensive care to both women and men with diseases of the breast through our multidisciplinary team of specialists. Sansum Clinic physicians and surgeons treat more than half of the patients diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Santa Barbara.

The breast care program is based at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center for outpatient care and at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for inpatient care.

Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Care

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center’s breast cancer team includes breast surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, researchers, patient navigators, genetic counselors, oncology dietitian nutritionists, physical therapists (lymphedema) and other support staff providing prompt, compassionate diagnostic services and comprehensive care, close to home. Our breast care team collaborates with the multidisciplinary team of the Santa Barbara Breast Care Alliance, providing patients with the collective knowledge of Santa Barbara County’s diverse team of breast cancer experts. In addition to treating breast cancer, we also care for patients with benign breast disease, including complications of lactation.


Cancer is a disease in which cells become abnormal and form more cells in an uncontrolled way. With breast cancer, the cancer begins in the tissues that make up the breasts. The cancer cells may form a mass called a tumor. (Note: Not all tumors are cancerous.) They may also invade nearby tissue and spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. The most common types of breast cancer are:

Ductal carcinoma – Cancer that begins in the ducts and grows into surrounding tissues. About 8 in 10 breast cancers are this type.

Lobular carcinoma – Cancer that begins in the lobules and grows into surrounding tissues. About 2 in 10 breast cancers are this type.

Treatment for breast cancer depends on a number of factors and often involves more than one approach. The stage of the cancer, the tumor size, the type of breast cancer, whether or not you have reached menopause and your overall health will determine what treatment you receive.

Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Most people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. Most breast cancers are detected on yearly screening mammograms performed as part of a woman's routine preventative healthcare.

Some warning signs of breast cancer are:

  • New lump in the breast or under the arm
  • Nipple retraction (pulling or tethering of the nipple toward the breast)
  • Bloody or clear nipple discharge – spontaneous
  • Breast skin changes, such as thickening or dimpling or redness

Keep in mind that these symptoms can occur with other conditions that are not cancer. To determine whether or not cancer is present requires one or more of the diagnostic procedures detailed below.


Early detection is critical to determining a good outcome for breast cancer. Our breast radiologists are experts in using the latest diagnostic technology to evaluate breast concerns and diagnose breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Diagnosis

3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis)
Breast Ultrasound
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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At Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, our comprehensive approach to treatment ensures that we create personalized treatment plans for every patient with breast cancer. 

Treatment plans may include:

Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Surgery
Chemotherapy/Medical Oncology
Radiation Oncology
Clinical Trials

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