It’s a new day in the treatment of breast cancer. Since March women who are newly diagnosed have the option of coming to the Regional Cancer Center to have their case heard.
“From a patient perspective, once you’re hit with a diagnosis like this, there’s a lot of anxiety and fear. In this setting you can address a lot of different questions at once by the experts that are dealing with each particular discipline,” says Dr, Frank Rodriguez, a medical oncologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Lee Memorial Health System’s multidisciplinary breast clinic includes a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and a surgeon. Most breast cancer requires surgery, women want to know what to expect.
“About 70 % of patients are treated with breast conservation and that’s where you remove the area of breast cancer traditionally called a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy and when you keep the breast intact that patient will need radiation therapy to that breast and so that’s when the radiation oncologist comes into play,” says Dr. Lea Blackwell, a breast surgical oncologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
The multidisciplinary approach is meant to streamline the evaluation process. A breast cancer patient is able to meet with each specialist, then they meet with each other to go over her course of action.
“We spend about an hour reviewing all their pathology slides and their radiographs and we have a discussion and based on our conversation with the patients we come up with a consensus. We tell the patients what we would recommend prior to them leaving and try to give them a treatment plan outline,” says Dr. Alan Brown, a radiation oncologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
It is a whirlwind tour for breast cancer patients, by the time they leave, they’re back in the driver’s seat.