Breast Health

Every three minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in this country. Four out of five of these women have none of the reported risk factors, other than being female and aging.

Early Detection Saves Lives 

Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer and an annual mammogram is one of the most effective breast cancer screening methods available today. It is our goal to find cancer at the earliest stage to help patients live long and healthy lives. The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 40 and older have a screening mammogram and clinical breast exam annually; breast self examination is optional for women age 20 and older.

Faces of Compassion

It's the human touch that you will notice when you visit the newly expanded Breast Health Center at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center. Our physicians, nurses and technologists will be sensitive to your individual needs, making sure you feel comfortable throughout your care. In addition, our breast health coordinator, who is a nurse certified in navigating patients through both the imaging process and cancer care, is available if needed.

Full Range of Diagnostic Services

The Breast Health Center at UH St. John Medical Center provides a full range of state-of-the-art diagnostic and support services. We offer:

  • Screening Digital Mammography: Annual mammograms to detect any overall change in the appearance of breast tissue. Appropriate as an annual check-up for women without breast symptoms.
  • Diagnostic Digital Mammography: A series of breast images provide a more comprehensive and detailed view of the breasts. Appropriate for women with a prior history of breast cancer or a new breast symptoms.
  • Digital Mammography: Our Breast Health Center is one of the first sites in Northeast Ohio to offer breast cancer screening with a Selenia Dimensions 2D full field digital mammography system. The system offers greater power to detect subtle breast tissue changes, and ultimately enhances the ability to detect breast cancer early and provide optimal treatment. Besides offering incredibly sharp images at a low radiation dose, the system also provides greater patient comfort and more even compression across the entire breast.
  • Computer Assisted Detection System (CAD): CAD technology reviews a patient's mammogram after the radiologist has already made an initial interpretation, providing a secondary review with the computer software to find and mark any additional breast abnormalities or "regions of interest."
  • Breast Ultrasound: Using new, high-resolution technology, breast ultrasound is a painless examination that uses high-frequency sound waves to obtain detailed mages of the inside of the breast. Breast ultrasound is used as a screening and diagnostic tool.
  • Ultrasound and Mammogram Guided Needle Localization for Breast Biopsy: Uses ultrasound imaging to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the site of an abnormal growth.

Less Invasive Breast Biopsies

Benefits for our patients include minimal scarring, reduced pain, quicker recovery time and an immediate return to daily activities.

  • Fine Needle Aspiration: Often used to confirm that a breast lesion is a cyst, fine needle aspiration removes fluid from the cyst for analysis.
  • Ultrasound Guided Core Breast Biopsy: Ultrasound helps confirm correct needle placement, allowing for breast tissue to be obtained without surgery.
  • Breast Lesion Excision System (BLES): If you need a biopsy, it's reassuring to know that UH St. John Medical Center is the only hospital in Northeast Ohio to offer a minimally invasive outpatient procedure known as the IntactTM Breast Lesion Excision System (BLES.) This image-guided biopsy procedure eliminates the need for many women with a suspicious lesion to go to the operating room for invasive surgery and a potentially painful recovery. With BLES, a slender wand is inserted through a small incision in the breast to remove an intact sample of suspicious tissue for analysis.
  • Stereotactic Biopsy: A less invasive biopsy used when calcifications are found in the breast.

Education and Counseling

  • Certified Breast Health Counselor – Our certified breast health counselor is here to help you make informed decisions from the time of diagnosis through testing, treatment and into recovery.
  • Support Groups: We offer the "Hope Group," a breast cancer support group co-facilitated by a professional clinical counselor and our breast health counselor. Educational information on breast cancer, diet, exercise and support is provided, helping women to take better care of their health and well-being. Participants include those newly diagnosed through breast cancer survivors. Other cancer support groups, such as "I Am Not Alone" are available for patients, their family members and friends.

Medical Director

Cathy Graham, MD, Medical Director of The Breast Health Center, is board certified by the American Board of Surgery. She earned her medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency at the University of Cincinnati. She worked for 10 years at University Hospitals and has spent the last seven years with University Southwest Surgeons. Dr. Graham has special medical interests in breast cancer, benign breast problems and surgical trauma. She takes a proactive role during the entire period of diagnosis, treatment and recovery of her breast patients, providing honesty, comfort and security along the way.


Donna Plecha, MD and Niki Constantinou, MD, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center radiologists at The Breast Health Center, are fellowship trained in breast imaging. On-site daily at The Breast Health Center, they review mammograms, breast ultrasounds and breast MRI as well as perform ultrasound guided core breast biopsies and stereotactic biopsies.

For additional information about The Breast Health Center at UH St. John Medical Center, contact Joyce Forristell, CBPN I-C, breast health coordinator, at 440-827-5459.

More information about the early detection of breast cancer:

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