Breast cancer story pdf


Published on

Published in: Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Breast cancer story pdf

  1. 1. Are you at risk? Photo by Michael DabbraccioTake charge ofyour breasthealthBy Karen Pasacreta Lynn Alcott, a patient of Saint Raphael’s Women’s Center for Breast Health, is Procrastination. We’ve all put off something at one more risk factors for breast surrounded by a supportive time or another. Call it human nature. We can’t help cancer does not mean a woman family, including husband it – especially when the thing we put off potentially will develop the disease, some Joseph (not pictured) and comes with news we don’t want to hear. women are not aware of their their children, Ashley, 18, Still, if Lynn Alcott had undergone a mammogram risks or the importance of Joey, 4 , and Barbara, 11. screening sooner rather than later, doctors might have screening. caught her breast cancer earlier. But hindsight is 20-20 Early detection vital and regret can paralyze one’s decisions to move forward Early detection is vital to diagnosing breast cancer, and do something about the situation now. And that’s says Denise Barajas, M.D., director of Saint Raphael’s how Alcott, who considers herself lucky, feels. Her Women’s Center for Breast Health (WCBH) and a breast cancer was caught at Stage 2 out of 4. member of Alcott’s care team. “The use of “I could have put the covers over my head, but I have mammograms is the best tool we have to finding breast three kids and I had to reassure them it’s OK,” said cancer early and increasing the patient’s survival.” Alcott, a 44-year-old Hamden resident who turned to The American Cancer Society recommends women the Hospital of Saint Raphael for her breast cancer care. begin yearly mammograms starting at age 40. While “I had to stay positive. You need to find your strength.” the U.S. Preventative Task Force came out with other Breast cancer is the most common cancer among guidelines in 2009 that stated women in their 40s American women and the second leading cause of should not get yearly routine mammograms for early cancer death in women, according to the Centers for detection of breast cancer, the American College of Disease Control and Prevention. While having one or 6 Saint Raphael’s SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011
  2. 2. Obstetricians and Gynecologists But one of the biggest risk factorsclarified its stand in July, joining is family history. You could be atthe American Cancer Society with a higher risk for breast cancer ifthe same recommendations – 40 your biological mother or sisterand yearly – as the preferred has been diagnosed – or, if yourguideline, Barajas said. aunts or either grandmother hadBegin as early as possible the disease. This can put you in a category suggesting a need for A woman should start genetic screening to find outperforming breast self-exams in whether you have inherited aher 20s to know and understand mutation in the BRCA 1 orhow her breasts feel and look BRCA 2 genes.normally and can then be aware According to Barajas, youngerof any changes, should any occur, ? women with breast cancer aresaid Karen Johnson, M.D., a more at risk for geneticbreast surgeon affiliated with law states that if a woman hasSaint Raphael’s. dense breast tissue on her “The risk for breast canceris not high when you are Did you know. . . mammograms, a follow-up letter must be sent to notify her thatyounger,” said Johnson, Saint Raphael’s Breast Center she has dense breast tissue and“but you need to be was the first in the region and may benefit from screening; thiscognizant of what a change second in CT to be accredited can include a breast ultrasound oris in your breast. Do you see by the National Accreditation a breast MRI examination, orsomething different? Start Program for Breast Centers, both, depending on the woman’searly so you know what you a distinction signifying a risk factors. A similar law wasare looking for. This can commitment to quality care. recently passed in Texas, andstart as early as the pre-teen multiple other states are presentlyyears with their pediatricians, considering similar legislation. mutations. Alcott’s maternaland girls need to be taught “One test is not better than grandmother had died fromnot to be embarrassed.” the other,” said Johnson, who breast cancer, but Alcott had Alcott’s ordeal began when is affiliated with Saint Raphael’s tested negative for carrying theshe felt a small lump in her right new High-Risk Breast Health mutation. Breast cancer is lessbreast. “It felt like a hard grape,” Program, “but an ultrasound is likely to be genetic if your familyAlcott recalled. “And I didn’t do a very good test in a skilled members were diagnosed afteranything about it.” She actually radiologist’s hands and is an menopause, Barajas explained.told herself it would go away. But, excellent adjunct to aover time, she felt a pervasive, dull Dense breast, new law mammogram.”pain. After some complaining, One of the leading high-risk High-Risk program opensAlcott was urged by her husband, factors for breast cancer is a largeJoseph, to get a mammogram – amount of dense breast tissue – Five years ago, Saint Raphael’sher first ever. That was three fibrous and glandular tissue that established the WCBH to take amonths after she felt the lump. may hide a small cancer, causing personalized, holistic approachAt the end of November 2010, mammograms to be less sensitive to treating women with breastshe got the news. “I couldn’t for cancer detection. cancer. This year, the centerbelieve it,” she said. A new Connecticut law requires opened the High-Risk Breast mammography reports to include Health Program for women whoKnow your risks may be at higher risk for breast information about breast density. Simply being a woman puts cancer due to genetic mutations, Connecticut was the first to passyou at risk for breast cancer. dense breasts or other high-risk this law, which came into effect inThe chance of getting breast factors.Through initial counseling, 2009 under former Gov. M. Jodicancer also increases with age. diagnostic testing and education, Rell, a breast cancer survivor. TheSEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011 Saint Raphael’s 7
  3. 3. Breastwomen can become educated about their risk factors “Radiation therapy can reconstructionand learn more about mammograms or other testing also be delivered to medically Read about athat may be appropriate. eligible patients using a leading breast “We saw a need in the community,” said Barajas, balloon-catheter-basedone of the program’s founders. “There are patients system,” Chung said. reconstructionwith questions that are often best answered by “Partial breast radiation, procedure that isclinicians specializing in breast health. We also provide which involves treatment being offered byan opportunity to talk to an expert and get them of only a portion of the Saint Raphaelup-to-date on current screening recommendations.” breast, has been offered to surgeons on If diagnosed, a multidisciplinary team approach highly selected patients sinceof dedicated radiologists, pathologists, a patient 2008. Treatment times are page 12.navigator, advanced practice registered nurse, breast significantly shorter thansurgeon and oncologists all work together to address with conventional treatment,” she explained.the patient holistically. Weekly treatment planning Saint Raphael’s arsenal also includes 3D conformalconferences help determine the best plan of care for radiation therapy, an advanced treatment planningeach patient. No referral is necessary. technology in which beams of radiation are shaped to “The WCBH team reaches out to physicians with match and target the tumor, sparing healthy tissue.information about how they may refer their patients Another new advance is Oncotype DX, a diagnosticto the High-Risk Breast Health Program for more test for early-stage breast cancer that can determinecomprehensive evaluation,” said Paul Levesque, M.D., whether the patient needs chemotherapy or hormonedirector of Saint Raphael’s Breast Imaging Center and therapy. “The results of this test, combined with otherone of the physicians affiliated with the program. features of the cancer, help patients make a more Comprehensive imaging services include screening informed decision about whether or not to havemammography, screening breast ultrasound, chemotherapy,” said Andrea Silber, M.D., a medicaldiagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound, breast oncologist and co-director of the WCBH.MRI and PET/CT, all using state-of-the-art A helping handequipment, he said. Whatever your risk, a breast cancer diagnosis canAdvanced treatments be overwhelming. That’s where Maria Moura, R.N., After Alcott’s mammogram showed a mass in her the patient navigator at WCBH, has the veryright breast, it was followed up with a biopsy and important role of guiding the patient through thisMRI. In January 2011, she had a lumpectomy, a process, from education to diagnosis, testing services,surgical operation in which a lump is removed from possible surgery and follow-up treatment.the breast. Many women who undergo surgery for “I’m here to support both patients and physicians –breast cancer also receive additional treatment, such to make sure nothing prevents patients from obtainingas chemotherapy, hormone therapy or radiation. their care,” said Moura. “My role is to guide patients According to Joyce Chung, M.D., a radiation through treatment and the recovery process.”oncologist and a WCBH co-director, a combination of For Alcott, who completed chemotherapy in Julychemotherapy and radiation is a standard treatment to and whose radiation treatments will soon come to aimprove local control of the cancer cells and optimize close, the beginning of her diagnosis seems like asurvival rate in women who have a lumpectomy. Saint complete blur. She is grateful someone was able toRaphael’s offers radiation treatment at its New Haven hold her hand and take her through the process. “I feltand Hamden campus of the Father Michael J. very at ease at Saint Raphael’s,” she said. “They madeMcGivney Center for Cancer Care. me feel like they were going to help me and make “Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams of everything better.”energy, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells,” Chung Saint Raphael’s WCBH provides personalized,explained. Saint Raphael’s cancer-fighting arsenal comprehensive treatment to patients with breastincludes linear accelerators that aim high-powered cancer. Call 1.888.577.9224 (WCBH) or visitenergy beams in a technique known as external to learn more.beam radiation. For a list of High-Risk Breast Health Program physicians, visit; or call 203.789.3972 for a listing.8 Saint Raphael’s SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011