At Saint John’s Health Center, a community hospital located in Santa Monica, CA, breast evaluation is a crucial component of women’s healthcare. The Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s exemplifies this commitment by offering comprehensive evaluation and screening services alongside its renowned breast oncologic care and research efforts.

How we evaluate breast conditions

The Margie Petersen Breast Center’s focus on breast health underscores the importance of early detection and prevention in combating breast cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. The breast center, led by Dr. Janie Grumley, Director, Comprehensive Breast Program, is known for being able to evaluate any breast condition in one day.

Clinical Breast Examine - Screening and Imaging
A clinical breast examine may include more than one type of imaging method.

Breast Examination

Breast examination is a fundamental component of breast evaluation. Performed by a healthcare provider, a breast examination is different than a self-exam. A physical exam involves palpating the breasts and underarms to detect any abnormalities such as lumps, thickening, or changes in texture. It is a simple yet effective method for identifying potential issues that may require further investigation. During the exam, we will physically check both of your breasts.

Learn more about breast exams including self-breast examination.

Breast Ultrasound

Breast ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging technique used to supplement mammography. It utilizes sound waves to create detailed images of the breast tissue, aiding in the detection and characterization of breast abnormalities. Ultrasound is particularly useful for distinguishing between solid masses and fluid-filled cysts, helping to guide further diagnostic and treatment decisions. We may recommend an ultrasound to help determine whether a breast abnormality is likely to be a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass, which may be either benign or cancerous.

Learn more about Breast Ultrasound.

Breast Biopsy

Biopsy is a procedure performed to obtain a tissue sample from the breast for examination under a microscope. It is the most definitive way to diagnose breast cancer and determine its characteristics, such as hormone receptor status. There are different biopsy techniques, including needle biopsy and surgical biopsy, depending on the size and location of the abnormality.

Learn more about Breast Biopsy.

Breast MRI

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a supplemental imaging modality used in certain cases to provide more detailed information about breast tissue. It is often used in conjunction with mammography for high-risk individuals or to further evaluate abnormalities detected on mammograms or ultrasound.

Learn more about Breast MRI.

Though visible on a mammogram, some cancers may be difficult to detect.


Mammography is the primary screening tool for breast cancer, involving low-dose X-rays to detect early signs of cancer before symptoms develop. It can detect small tumors that may not be palpable during a physical exam. Regular mammograms are recommended for women starting at age 40, or earlier for those with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. A mammogram is considered the standard of care to screen for breast cancer.

Learn more about Mammograms.

Other Types of Testing

Other tests and procedures may be used depending on your situation. PET Scans (Positron Emission Tomography), for example, are not used to screen for breast cancer due to the limited ability to detect small tumors, they are useful in staging breast cancer. This includes evaluation of the lymph nodes and cancer spread to other parts of the body. Similarly, CT scans (Computerized Tomography) are not routinely used to evaluate the breasts but may be used to verify if a tumor has spread into the chest wall. This knowledge helps to determine the type of recommended surgery. Thermagraphy or Thermal Imaging is another type of test that measures the temperature of a patient’s skin, revealing metabolic blood flow, which can be elevated where tumor cells are rapidly dividing. Learn more.

Annual Check ups

Annual checkups are essential for maintaining breast health and detecting any changes early. While most findings are benign, early detection of breast cancer offers the most favorable outcomes. Regular screenings and prompt evaluation of any abnormalities ensure that women receive the most appropriate care and support for their breast health needs.

Contact us today to learn more. Patients are often seen the same day and without a requiring a referral.


Contact the Margie Petersen Breast Center

Margie Petersen Breast Team
The Margie Petersen Breast Center Team

The Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center is widely renown for its outstanding and compassionate patient care, expert surgical and medical team, and ability to fully evaluate any breast condition in one day.

Meet Our Breast Health Experts

The Breast Health Clinic can be reached at (310) 582-7209. If you have questions regarding a new symptom or want to make an appointment for evaluation please call and a staff member will assist with navigating you in the right direction.

Schedule an Appointment For more information