Archbold Offers Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care
No woman wants to be told she has breast cancer. Yet, if this year is typical, doctors will break this news to more than 230,000 women in the U.S.
Perhaps you will know one of them. She might be your mother, daughter, wife or close friend. Or perhaps you will be the woman who suddenly finds herself asking, "Will I survive this disease?"
More than ever before, the answer to this question is a reassuring yes.
Every year since 1989, death rates for breast cancer have dropped steadily, the American Cancer Society reports. Today, about 98 percent of women with early-stage breast cancer—or cancer that has not spread beyond the breast—are still alive at least five years after their diagnosis.
Why is the outlook for breast cancer so improved?
“The widespread use of mammograms—and their ability to detect tiny tumors that often respond well to treatment—is one likely reason breast cancer survival rates nationwide are increasing,” said Archbold Women’s Center Radiologist Mary Anne Bullard Grayson, MD.
Earlier this year, the Archbold Women’s Center announced the arrival of 3D mammography technology, the most advanced imaging technology available to help detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. Archbold physicians say this technology has already contributed greatly to an increased rate of breast cancer detection at the Archbold Women’s Center.
“The technology produces an unprecedented view of the breasts from multiple angles,” said Archbold radiologist Mary Anne Bullard Grayson, MD. “Very fine details are more visible with this technology, and even very small lesions are able to be detected and analyzed, because they are less likely hidden by overlapping tissue.”
Another reason for the decline in death rates for breast cancer—advancements in treatment and more personalized treatment options.
“Increasingly, doctors are now using treatments carefully matched to the specific biology and genetic makeup of each woman's cancer,” said Archbold medical oncologist Amanda D. May, MD.
As personalized as treatment now is, surgery is still standard for women with breast cancer.
“Almost all women will have surgery—often as their first treatment,” said Archbold general surgeon Greg Patterson, MD. “But even so, not all women will have the same type of surgery for their cancer.”
Today, most women with early-stage breast cancer can safely choose between a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) and a lumpectomy (removal of only the cancerous tumor plus some nearby healthy tissue). Doctors help women decide which option is right for them.
“With modern therapy, including chemotherapy up front, in some instances, we can turn patients from mastectomy to breast conserving, lumpectomy,” said Dr. Patterson.
Typically, a lumpectomy is followed by five to six weeks of radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells in a breast. Radiation therapy may also be recommended for some women after a mastectomy.
Depending on the characteristics of their cancer, women may also be treated with hormone therapies, chemo therapy and targeted therapy, a type of treatment that attacks specific abnormalities in cancer cells.
“It’s often very overwhelming for patients when they learn they have breast cancer,” said Debbie Beeson, Archbold’s breast cancer navigator. Beeson has the opportunity to connect with patients at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis. She guides them through the stages of their treatment and helps provide them with a better understanding of their disease.
“My job is to be there with them every step of the way—to connect them to resources they need throughout their journey, help them schedule appointments with their doctor, and just be there to provide the emotional support and guidance that they so often need at this critical time,” said Beeson.
The Breast Cancer Navigator Program is just one of the unique support programs that the Singletary Oncology Center offers. Patients also have access to support groups, genetic counseling, nutrition counseling, social services, massage therapy, art therapy and yoga classes.
“From the time a patient is diagnosed with cancer through their journey into survivorship, Archbold offers a very robust and comprehensive care model for all oncology patients, including those with breast cancer,” said Becky Troyer, administrator of Archbold’s Singletary Oncology Center. “We offer a very patient-centered approach to oncology care—patients see their medical and radiation oncologists in the same building where they receive their infusion and radiation treatments. We have access to cutting edge clinical trials that provide our patients some of the most advanced treatment options that other hospitals don’t even have access to yet. Our highly skilled medical and radiation oncologists collaborate with surgeons and other subspecialists through tumor conference every week to determine the best treatment options for individual patients. Simply put, the level of cancer care patients in our region have access to through Archbold is truly incredible.”