(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Technological advances in screening, diagnosis and treatment are game-changers in the fight against breast cancer. At Virginia Hospital Center’s The Reinsch-Pierce Family Center for Breast Health, state-of-the art technology improves breast cancer outcomes every day.
Molly Sebastian, MD, breast surgeon and Associate Medical Director of The Reinsch-Pierce Family Center recommends some simple steps that all women can take to monitor their breast health:
- Annual mammography is the best habit to cultivate from the age of 40 on. This is the single most important step a woman can take. Regardless of how healthy our eating or how much we exercise, everyone should have a yearly mammogram.
- If you have dense breast tissue, a 3D mammogram (called tomosynthesis) can be a more effective way to image the breast. Virginia Hospital Center was first in the area to offer this advanced imaging, which is now available in low dose as well.
- The risk of a breast cancer can be slightly reduced if we avoid excess alcohol, maintain close to the ideal body weight, and avoid smoking.
- A general awareness of your body including a monthly self-exam of the breast is also a good habit. Lumpiness that improves after the start of a menstrual cycle is normal. Contact your physician if you think you feel a lump or notice any other changes in your breasts.
Learn more about advances in breast care at a free educational event in October. A panel of Virginia Hospital Center experts including a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and physical therapist will discuss the latest breakthroughs in breast cancer care.
Some of the most exciting new therapies include:
- The MarginProbe® System, used in the operating room to evaluate malignancies in the areas surrounding excised breast tissue. “Studies show that MarginProbe reduces the need for additional surgery by more than 55%,” says Dr. Sebastian. “We were the first and only center in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to offer this innovative technology.”
- Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), which delivers radiation during surgery, directly into the space where the breast tumor has just been removed. Patients receive this targeted, one-time treatment when they have their lumpectomy and do not have to return for additional radiation therapy sessions.
- Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers a highly effective dose of radiation while greatly reducing treatment time. A small balloon attached to a catheter is placed inside the lumpectomy cavity and filled with saline solution. Computer-controlled radioactive seeds flow through the catheter into the balloon. The device remains in place during the course of APBI treatment, usually about a week. The catheter and balloon are then removed and treatment is complete.
The event is free, but registration is required. Visit www.virginiahospitalcenter.com/events today. Questions? Call 703.558.6700.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.