Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common and most feared form of cancer in women, affecting approximately one out of eight women at some stage of their lives in the western world.
Significant efforts have been made to achieve early detection and effective treatment in the last decade. Yet breast cancer continues to be the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women.
Sometimes the patient herself discovers a lump. In all too many cases, the discovery is made by chance and the lump may be large. The good news, though, is that Peoria has access to outstanding breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
No one really knows why some women get breast cancer. But there are known risk factors including:
- Age. Risk increases with age
- Genes. There are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which increase the risk.
- Family history. A woman’s risk of breast cancer is higher if her mother, sister or daughter had breast cancer, especially at a young age (before age 40).
Other risk factors include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35, or having dense breasts.
Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends scheduling mammography X-ray examinations that detect breast cancers too small to feel (less than 1cm)—every year for women 40 and over.
Knowing that early detection is a critical aspect in the fight against breast cancer, the Methodist Breast Health Center combines the latest in diagnostic and treatment services under one comprehensive program. The Center provides a supportive, comforting environment where each woman receives personalized attention and care. All mammography sites, including the Methodist Mammography Mobile Van, feature the latest digital equipment, which is faster, more accurate and more comfortable for the patient, and requires less radiation.
Methodist has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. State-of-the-art screening and diagnostic services, including mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, needle-guided breast biopsies and surgical biopsies, are available for proper diagnosis. The staff understands the anxiety associated with a breast condition and works to give patients the most prompt diagnosis possible.
When breast MRI is recommended as another level of diagnosis, bilateral breast imaging is offered. What can be a two-day procedure at many facilities is conducted in one day at Methodist, thanks to the ability to image both breasts at the same time.
Kelly Frick, a registered mammography technologist and Registered Breast Health Navigator says, “Communication is considered vital to a patient’s treatment and recovery.” If a radiologist detects an abnormality on a screening mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram and other tests are usually needed to make a specific diagnosis.
According to Frick, “Our patients don’t have to worry about scheduling multiple appointments with several physicians and driving all over town, because their breast health team meets here in one central location.” A breast navigator works with each patient, providing education and support while ensuring that testing and procedures are scheduled promptly.
The patient and healthcare team members will then discuss the most appropriate approach for care. The treatment plan may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or some combination of these. If surgery is an option, a surgeon will be consulted. If radiation therapy is to be considered, a radiation oncologist will be consulted. A medical oncologist discusses with patients the potential use of hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
For women, breast cancer is still the most common non-skin cancer. With early detection and continuing work to improve and expand the treatment options available, comes hope that breast cancer statistics will continue to improve. iBi