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Breast Clinic: Taking a Team Approach: November 27, 2011

When the diagnosis is breast cancer, patients want answers. Lee Memorial Health System’s Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic gives them answers in a one-stop shop.

“They get to meet the nurse navigators that also do a lot of patient education and for breast cancer and then you meet every different modality of the specialty to take care of your breast cancer,” says Dr. Lea Blackwell, a breast surgical oncologist with the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

The centerpiece for the clinic is the tumor board, where specialists from different fields meet to review a patient’s case and create customized treatment plans.

Patients meet individually with an oncologist, surgeon and radiation oncologist. Following the rounds, the panel of experts meets in a round table discussion.

“We review the patients history do examinations and present their case at a round table discussion where a pathologist and a radiologist are present and we come up with a consensus,” says Dr. Alan Brown, a radiation oncologist with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

A plan of action is presented to the patient, one that’s tailored to their needs.

“It’s really a customized approach to each tumor every tumor is a little different and so they all need a different approach and different elements of the team are important for different patients,” says Dr. Blackwell.

What would normally take multiple appointments is done in one day, in one place.

“When you have to travel different places there’s some sort of disconnect here I think having everybody under you know in one place under one room discussing out case means the world difference to patients,” says Dr. Brown.

Taking out some of the confusion leaves more room for hope and healing.

“Even if they have to go through a period of treatment that’s usually short in relation to how long they’re going to live without their disease to really become survivors,” says medical oncologist Dr. Frank Rodriguez.