What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a kind of cancer that starts in the breast. It can start in the skin of the breast, the nipple, or—usually—the parts inside the breast such as milk ducts and lobes. Cancer that starts in the breast acts and grows in a different way than cancer that starts in another body part.

Women have a 1-in-70 chance of getting breast cancer at age 40, and the risk through a woman’s whole life is 1 in 8. Less than 1 percent of breast cancer cases happen in men. The chances of getting breast cancer go up as you get older.

Types of Breast Cancer

There are many types of breast cancer. Without treatment, the most common types will form a lump called a tumor [TOO-mer].

The most common type for both men and women starts in the lining of the milk ducts of the breast and is called ductal carcinoma [DUHK-tuhl KAR-sihn-OH-muh]. The second most common type for women starts in the lobes, which are the glands that make milk, and is called lobular carcinoma [LOB-yuh-ler KAR-sihn-OH-muh]. Other types of breast cancer include:

  • Tubular carcinoma
  • Medullary [MEJ-uh-ler-ee] carcinoma
  • Papillary [PAP-ih-ler-ee] carcinoma
  • Cribriform [KRIB-ruh-fawrm] carcinoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget’s [PAJ-its] disease of the nipple
  • Phyllodes [FIL-ohds] tumors

Understanding Breast Cancer


Because there are many kinds of breast cancer, the symptoms can vary. Very early on, you may not have any symptoms.

Breast cancer symptoms that you should look for on your own include:

  • Swelling
  • Skin redness or irritation
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Dimpling of the skin
  • Pain, in the breast or nipple
  • Changes in the nipple, such as it turning inward
  • Discharge from the nipple that’s not breast milk
  • A lump in the breast, in or near the armpit, or near the collar bone

Breast Cancer Awareness
To get an idea of how your breast feels and looks normally, it is a good idea to do a self-exam every month. Changes in your body, including breastfeeding and aging, can change the way your breasts look and feel. Some doctors recommend doing this exam within 2 or 3 days of your period’s end. Talk with your doctor about what is timing is right for you, and make a habit of it.

A more important part of breast cancer awareness is seeing your doctor regularly to be screened for breast cancer. This screening will involve an exam of your breast by your doctor, and it may also include a mammogram, an ultrasound, or an MRI of your breast.

High Risk Breast Clinic

Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. You may be at higher risk if you have:

Family members with breast cancer

Personal history of certain non-cancerous breast conditions

Known genetic mutation (such as BRCA)

The Intermountain High Risk Breast Clinic provides:

Individualized counseling

Individualized counseling regarding your breast cancer risk and ways to reduce it


Recommendations regarding optimal breast cancer screening, with the goal of early detection

Annual visits

Annual visits to discuss relevant updates to ensure appropriate screening tests are ordered and reviewed genetic testing/counseling when appropriate

How to Make an Appointment With the Intermountain High Risk Breast Clinic:


If you or one of your healthcare providers is concerned that you might be at increased risk for breast cancer, they can make a referral by:


Provider Referral:

  • Fax 801.507.3898
  • Order a consult to the High Risk Breast Clinic in iCentra. Our intake coordinator will contact the patient directly to schedule

Video Visits

Although several physical locations are available, video visits are preferred to make the consultation and follow-up care as convenient as possible.

If in-person care is needed:

  • We have providers across the system with expertise in the management of patients at high risk for breast cancer.
  • Your patient coordinator can help determine what location of care is best for you.

Learn More

To learn more about Intermountain Healthcare’s High Risk Breast Clinic call 833.321.2244