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Wellness Matters: Advanced Technology Improves Breast Cancer Care

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

(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 today. Questions? Call 703.558.6700.

11th Annual Ladies for Life
Saturday, October 3
9 – 11:30 a.m.
John T. Hazel Conference Center
1701 North George Mason Drive, Arlington

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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