Comprehensive care for your breast health available

By RUTHERFORD REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM
May. 19, 2013 @ 07:27 AM

Rutherford Regional’s Breast Care Program is designed to provide each patient with comprehensive and compassionate care. Your first step in maintaining your breast health is a mammogram.

According to the National Cancer Institute, women ages 40 and older should include a mammogram as part of their annual physical – and those with a family history of breast cancer or have had other breast problems might need to begin getting mammograms earlier than age 40 or more often.

Mammograms can detect breast cancers earlier than clinical breast exams. Women who undergo treatment for breast cancers found at the earliest stage have more than a 98 percent survival rate at five years.

A mammogram detects changes in breast tissue that are not normal, such as lumps or masses and calcifications, by using a low-dose X-ray. A mammogram is read by a radiologist, who will compare your past mammograms with your most recent one to check for changes.

At Rutherford Regional’s Mammography Place, mammograms are provided through digital mammography, which allows the radiologist to view the X-ray image more closely, zeroing in on suspicious or concerning areas. Digital mammography provides not only better images of the breast, it also reduces the amount of radiation needed for quality images.

With digital mammography, a radiologist can view and manipulate the images on high-resolution computer monitors that enhance visualization of the structures within the breast tissue. They can also adjust brightness and contrast and zoom in on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses and other changes that may be signs of early cancer. Digital mammography may be more beneficial for women with dense breasts

who are pre- or perimenopausal or who are younger than age 50.

Should a change be detected in your breasts during a routine mammogram, you will have a diagnostic mammogram. A diagnostic mammogram is similar to a screening mammogram, but takes longer because it involves more X-rays in order to obtain views of the breast from several angles. Your physician may also order other tests, such as an ultrasound, MRI or biopsy.

Patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer will have access to a patient navigator, a specially trained registered nurse who offers educational and emotional support from the time of diagnosis until recovery. Your navigator is there to assist your family as well.

Patient navigators are available to attend appointments with your physician to help you understand your care. A multidisciplinary case review, involving medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, surgeons and the patient navigator is conducted for each patient. Working together, the team will determine the best course of care for you and determine the treatment that is specific to your diagnosis. You will also be given the latest information on clinical trials, genetic counseling, multi-gene tumor analysis and testing referrals.

Should you need surgery, a certified physical therapist is available after surgery for lymphedema therapy to help minimize arm swelling.

In addition to the support from your navigator, Rutherford Regional’s Cancer Resource Center offers support groups and classes for those undergoing breast cancer treatments. In partnership with American Cancer Society, the Center offers Look Good Feel Better, a class that provides skin and beauty care information. The Pink Ladies Support Group is open to any woman who is experiencing or has survived cancer. This vibrant group of women is committed to making the most of life and giving back to the community around them.

Those who need a prosthesis or mastectomy bra can be fitted by a professional mastectomy services fitter at the Center, a service that is offered in partnership with Smith’s Drugs of Forest City. Most medical insurances will cover the cost of the supplies if a doctor’s prescription is provided.

The Center also offers computer access, educational materials and more.

For more information on breast health, visit MyRutherfordRegional.com/BreastCare.