In the last decade, multiple advancements are increasing long-term survival for women with breast cancer. These advancements have included improvements in imaging technology, enhanced surgical techniques and new discoveries in oncology.
In the detection of breast cancer, the introduction of digital mammography has provided better image quality and more thorough comparisons to a patient’s previous mammogram.
“Breast cancer treatment now includes a focus on oncoplastic breast surgery,” says McLeod Breast Surgeon Amy Murrell. “The goal being to perform an excellent cancer operation, but at the same time ensuring as good of a cosmetic result as can be achieved.”
One example of this type of surgery is a Bilateral Therapeutic Reduction Mammoplasty. During a lumpectomy, the breast surgeon and plastic surgeon perform a breast lift and reduction, providing the patient with a better cosmetic outcome.
Physicians know that not all breast cancers are the same. Some breast cancers are best treated with chemotherapy prior to surgery to improve survival.
In addition, there is new technology available to help determine what the chance is of the breast cancer recurring. If this test returns as low risk, studies have shown that chemotherapy will provide little improvement in lowering the chance that cancer returns. If the risk is high, then chemotherapy is beneficial in decreasing the risk of recurrence.
HOW TO FIND A GOOD BREAST CANCER CENTER
Several national organizations review different areas of breast cancer detection and treatment. Start by looking for centers that carry these two accreditations:
Be sure that your surgeon specializes in breast cancer procedures. It’s important that your surgeon is involved with developing your treatment as soon as your diagnosis is confirmed.
Nurse Navigators are important for your mental, as well as physical well being. Your Navigator will become part of your team as soon as you are diagnosed. They will work as a partner and guide you through the sometimes confusing maze of cancer treatment. A Nurses Navigator should be available to you 24 hours a day, ready to answer your questions and help reduce your anxiety.
Every woman with breast cancer is unique and her treatment will be different, as well. To optimize your life and survival make sure you have the correct treatment in the proper sequence.
Have a question? Ask a cancer specialist.