Summit Healthcare provides caring cancer treatment and preventive cancer screenings right here in your community.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DIAGNOSIS?
Hearing that you have been diagnosed with breast cancer can feel overwhelming at first. Instead of researching every possible scenario, it may prove most helpful to know your next actionable steps.
- Get to know your cancer. Familiarize yourself with your diagnosis. Ask your oncologist if your breast cancer is in its early stages and confined to one area, or has it spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes? You’ll also want to know your tumor’s grade, or growth pattern. When cancers are found early and treated before they spread to other parts of the body, they are easier to treat.
- Ask about treatment. Every woman’s treatment path looks different. If detected in its early stages, your tumor may be removed surgically—taking part or all of the breast—before starting adjuvant therapy, which is follow-up treatment that targets and destroys any remaining cancer cells. Other times, therapy may not be needed or may happen before surgery. Ask your health team about your options and what’s recommended for you.
- Reach out for help. Find support in family and friends and reach out to a social worker if needed. Enlist people to help with practical matters. Find friends to go with you to appointments. Communicate your emotional, physical, relational, financial and spiritual needs to trusted people in your life. It’s healthy to lean on others during this time.
SCREENINGS SAVE LIVES
When you begin having annual mammograms depends on your family medical history and current risk for breast cancer. If your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s, your doctor will likely recommend you begin annual screenings before women with average risk.
“We encourage you to determine your lifetime risk using the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool from the National Cancer Institute,” says Mary Ann Andresen, RT, (R)(M)(BD), Lead Mammographer with Women’s Imaging at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center. “Discuss these results with your primary care doctor and talk about screenings.”
When you’re ready for your first mammogram, Summit Healthcare has options for you, including breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D imaging, which captures images of the breast at various angles to create a more accurate image of breast tissue. Stacked together, these cross sections, or slices, give radiologists a good look at what’s going on beneath the surface.
“Offering this technology for the last year has reduced call back rates for patients, which is helpful,” says Holly Rhoton, RT, (R)(M)(BD), Mammographer with Women’s Imaging at Summit Healthcare. “Also, we offer MammoPads®, or foam padding, to add cushion and boost comfort during screening.”
Other screenings include breast magnetic resonance imaging for women with implants and ultrasound-guided breast biopsies for those with suspicious lumps.
Holly and Mary Ann encourage women to be their own health advocates and search out community resources. Off the clock, Holly writes a mammogram-related blog to further educate women about screening.
Breast cancer awareness is essential. To know your risk, schedule a visit with your primary care doctor. Ask for a referral to Women’s Imaging at Summit Healthcare to begin screening, if necessary. The referral line is 928.537.6589.