Section: Highlights

One Team: Caring for You

03/25/2016
One Team: Caring for You

At the St. Jude Kathryn T. McCarty Breast Center we are at the forefront of stacking the odds in each woman’s favor.

“Every day we use advances that weren’t available even five years ago to ensure the vast majority of women not only survive but recover more fully and quickly,” explains Brad Silveira, MD, medical director, St. Jude Breast Center.

And while new breakthroughs continue to increase survival rates, early diagnosis remains the most effective way of beating breast cancer.

BETTER DIAGNOSIS

A nationally-recognized Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, we offer the entire range of diagnostic options, including 3D mammography (coming this fall), digital mammography with computer aided detection, breast MRI, and advanced biopsy techniques. If a potential problem is found, the next step in testing and diagnosis is immediately available — all within one convenient location.

“The value of a mammogram or breast MRI can depend on the skill with which it’s read,” explains Brenna Chalmers, MD, a fellowshiptrained radiologist who specializes exclusively in breast imaging. “Today’s most advanced technology combined with radiologists who are dedicated solely to this area of women’s health, allows us to offer a higher degree of accuracy and peace of mind to patients.”

INNOVATIONS IN TREATMENT

For those with a breast cancer diagnosis there’s good news.

Immunotherapies that activate a patient’s immune system to destroy tumors, new medications that prevent cancer cells from repairing themselves, chemotherapies capable of targeting a patient’s tumor-specific molecular markers, as well as radiation therapy delivered with laser precision and surgical techniques making cancer removal less invasive and more successful — all breakthroughs used at St. Jude to revolutionize cancer treatment.

“We are increasing the survivability of even the most advanced and aggressive cancers,” explains David Park, MD, medical director, St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute. For instance, HER2-positive cancers, were considered the most deadly breast cancers for many years, yet today mortality rates are down almost 50 percent through the development of a new class of drugs called HER2- inhibitors — research in which St. Jude’s cancer experts were actively involved.

“Through partnerships with UCLA and some of the nation’s leading research consortiums, we are moving very promising treatments from the laboratory to the bedside,” Dr. Park, a board-certified medical oncologist, explains.

Advances in surgical techniques are not only contributing to rising survival rates, but are allowing women to recover faster and more completely, with fewer side effects or complications.

“In the last two decades, no other cancer has witnessed such a tremendous change and improvement in treatment as breast cancer,” explains Robert McCoy, MD, breast surgeon. “The result is not only very high survival rates, but a much higher quality of life.”

Less-invasive lumpectomies that offer the same outcomes as mastectomies, improvements in surgical imaging that allow more precision, and the use of radioactive tracers to determine whether cancer has spread without removing healthy lymph nodes — a few examples of how St. Jude surgeons are creating more successful treatments and recoveries.

For women having mastectomies, tumor removal and reconstruction typically take place in a single step, with new nipple-sparing and skin-sparing techniques offering a near-normal postsurgical appearance of the breast. “Allowing a patient to wake up with the cancer gone and a restored appearance offers enormous psychological and emotional benefits,” explains Michael McConnell, MD, a fellowship-trained reconstructive and plastic surgeon.

MANY EXPERTS, ONE CAUSE

Every week, medical oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiation oncologists, nurse navigators and cancer researchers gather to review patients’ cases, allowing a plan of care that reflects the expertise of not just one breast cancer expert but an entire team.

“Breast cancer treatment can be particularly difficult for patients who find themselves moving from specialist to specialist, gathering details about their diagnosis and then trying to fit the pieces together on their own,” explains Clarence Petrie, MD, breast surgeon and medical director of Oncology Services. “Here, a very different scenario takes place: multiple specialties look at all aspects of diagnosis and treatment, offering patients a comprehensive, highly coordinated approach to care.”

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