The Margie Petersen Breast Center

In 1993 the Breast Center was founded as part of the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center. The Center now has over 7,500 patient visits per year.

Through the years, the Center has become a leader in the field, providing a model for breast centers around the nation. In fact, SELF magazine named it one of "America's 10 Best Breast Centers."

The Center is unique in its ability to combine the advanced multidisciplinary knowledge, expertise, and technology of the finest academic institutions with the warmth, attention to personal care, and comfortable surroundings of a familiar, community-oriented health center. The Center is staffed by dedicated professionals who are committed to providing truly collaborative care.

Goals and Areas of Research

Vitamin D and Cancer 

Epidemiologic studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the development and clinical course of invasive breast cancer. We are studying the possibility that vitamin D deficiency may be a factor in the expression of ductal carcinoma in situ, a precursor of invasive breast cancer. Data from our pilot studies indicate a possible inverse correlation between serum level of vitamin D and the nuclear grade of ductal carcinoma in situ; patients with higher tumor grade had lower levels of vitamin D.

In a collaborative study with JWCI’s Melanoma Research Program, endocrine researchers are studying the impact and role of vitamin D in melanoma; evidence suggests that vitamin D level may affect both the incidence and outcome of this skin cancer.

Patient Care and Treatment

The John Wayne Cancer Institute Breast Center serves as a top breast center for the nation, providing excellent patient care in addition to clinical and basic science research. Our breast center takes a look at the whole person when treating each patient. Care at our center includes, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, early detection, on-going cancer research and support, both emotionally and financially. We provide a one-stop home that includes several ancillary programs designed to help enhance each patient’s quality of life.

When breast cancer strikes, it affects every aspect of an individual's health and well-being, including the way that the individual and those around her cope with the disease. The professional staff at the Breast Center understands the complex nature of breast cancer and meets its challenges with a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment. One of our most effective and least invasive forms of treatment for breast cancer is the sentinel node biopsy. The Center also utilizes many professional resources of the John Wayne Cancer Institute and Saint John's Health Center to forge a united front against breast cancer and its effects. By working together, this team of professionals can provide a more thorough and effective approach to treatment and enhance the quality of coordinated care the patient receives.

The Center also has many different methods for the diagnosis and screening of breast cancer. The first step in this process is usually a mammogram. Yearly mammograms are an important tool in the early detection of breast cancer and are recommended for all women over the age of 40. Early detection leads to increased survival and for many women it will also mean a greater chance of breast preservation. Other methods of diagnosis that we use include ultrasonography, needle biopsy, stereotactic core biopsy and pathology. A mammogram alone will not be able to diagnose breast cancer, so we use the other methods to test for tumors as well as to getter a better sense of the exact location of the cancer.

In addition to breast cancer patients, the Breast Center provides services to patients with thyroid or parathyroid disease. Such conditions include primary hyperparathyroidism, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Our surgeons perform many endocrine operations and utilize the minimally invasive technique when possible.