Guiding You to Optimum Health- Woman to Woman
Each year more than 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Many more find lumps in their breasts or have abnormal calcium deposits discovered on mammograms. Some of us just want guidance in staying healthy. The Center for Breast Health is here for all of us.
At the center, we take a team approach to your care. Together, our experts provide you with complete and accurate answers to all your needs and questions. Here’s a look at the team members and how each works with you:
Your Family Doctor:
When you have a breast health concern, abnormal breast exam or abnormal mammogram, you need to be checked by your family doctor or healthcare provider, who can then refer you to one of our surgeons who specializes in breast health and surgery.
Our knowledgeable and experienced surgeons will counsel you on your various options for breast cancer treatment, as well as provide you with referrals to other appropriate team members. Your surgeon can provide:
- Surgical biopsies to remove an area of abnormality for pathology analysis. It can be completed either by palpation of a lump or with needle localization.
- Lumpectomies to surgically remove a cancerous or pre-cancerous breast lump.
- Mastectomies to remove all breast tissue and the nipple, and possibly the lymph nodes.
- Sentinel node biopsies to identify and test lymph nodes that receive the first drainage from a tumor.
- Implantation of vascular access device placements under the skin with a catheter threaded through a large vein to the heart. These devices allow intravenous medications to be easily delivered and access for blood tests.
Your nurse navigator: Your nurse navigators are specifically trained in breast health and women's issues. They will guide you on the journey to wellness by providing support, education and access to community and national resources.
Your Mammography Technologists: Your technologist specializes in performing mammograms gently and expertly.
Your radiologist: These medical doctors are the members of your team who specialize in reading X-rays and performing radiology procedures. Our radiological services include:
Mammograms: Low-radiation X-rays that show the internal structures of the breast from the top and side. To take a mammogram, the breast is positioned between two surfaces. The procedure is usually painless, but some women can find the pressure to be uncomfortable. Your radiologist needs several views of your breast, so it’s not unusual for many pictures to be taken.
There are two types of mammograms:
- Screening mammograms routinely examine breast tissue to detect changes. If you’re over 40, you should be getting this every year. The results are given to your doctors in two to four days.
- Diagnostic mammograms are used to evaluate breast symptoms, like lumps, thickening, nipple discharge or pain. Results are available immediately and additional studies - such as ultrasound - may be recommended by the radiologist who evaluates your films.
At the Center for Breast Health, our radiologists read the X-rays and then also process them with a computer-aided diagnostic imaging tool. This system double-checks the images to make sure we rule out any potential problems.
- Ultrasounds: This breast-imaging technique uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of breast tissue, which are then displayed on video screens and photographed for our radiologist to read. Ultrasounds can often reveal whether a lump is solid or filled with fluid. Ultrasounds are painless and results are often available immediately.
- Ultrasound-guided biopsy: This procedure can be preformed if your diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound reveals an abnormality that the radiologist recommends be examined with biopsy. For the procedure, the radiologist first uses a local anesthetic to numb your skin, then a needle is used to draw cells or a tissue specimen for analysis. Your radiologist may use an ultrasound or a stereotactic mammogram to accurately locate the area to be biopsied. Your biopsy will then be sent to the pathologist for evaluation, with results being made available to your doctor in one or two days.
- Stereotactic biopsy: This minimally invasive procedure uses three-dimensional computerized imaging to pinpoint suspicious areas in the breast. Tissue samples may be drawn with a needle. This type of biopsy is most helpful when the abnormality can be seen on a mammogram, but not felt during physical examination. Results are available to your doctor within two to four days.
- Needle localization: This procedure uses X-rays to determine the precise location of abnormal tissue so that a needle can be inserted to allow your surgeon to accurately remove the abnormality for analysis. This is especially helpful when an abnormality is seen on a mammogram or ultrasound, but can’t be felt.
- Galactogram: This procedure evaluates the breast ducts. If you have abnormal nipple discharge, your doctor may order this procedure in which a small needle is gently inserted into the nipple so that X-ray dye can be injected. After this, X-rays of the breast will show the anatomy of the ducts, which can help your doctor determine the cause of the discharge. Results are often available immediately.
- Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI: MRIs are performed by our radiologists work at St. Elizabeth Imaging Centers. This computerized body imaging process uses radio waves and powerful magnets to provide three-dimensional images of the body.
- DEXA or Dual Energy X-ray Absorptionometry scan: This test screens your bone density to detect bone loss or bone thinning. Because many women with breast concerns should not use estrogen, determining whether you are at risk for bone weakness is important. Your doctor can determine whether you will need help to maintain or build bone density.
Your pathologist: This member of your team is a medical doctor who specializes in analyzing body tissue for the presence of disease. Your pathologist uses a microscope to detect abnormalities that are too small to be seen or felt.
Your medical oncologist: This cancer doctor is a specialist in chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Chemotherapy is often recommended for women with breast cancer because it uses cell-killing drugs to treat cancer.
Your radiation oncologist: This cancer doctor specializes in radiation and nuclear medicine and oversees those who need radiation therapy. This form of treatment uses high-energy penetrating rays to treat cancer by killing abnormal cells.
Your plastic and reconstructive surgeon: This member of your team can perform reconstructive surgery to rebuild a breast that has been surgically removed, after a mastectomy. Your plastic surgeon will educate you about the many techniques available.
Your massage therapist: These skilled therapists can provide you with some much-needed relaxation and relief of muscle tension as part of your care at the center.
Your nutritionist: These professionals are specially educated in nutrition and diet. Your nutritionist can provide personalized menu planning and weight management, as well as information about healing foods, vitamins, minerals and supplements.
Your social services counselor: These licensed, certified and college-degreed counselors are here to help you with the one-on-one coping skills and referrals to community resources that you may need in the course of your treatment.
Your image consultant: Cancer therapy – including breast and hair loss and swelling - can change how you look and feel. These specialists are here to help with your individual need for wigs and prostheses. You will also have private consultations with specialists who can assist you with insurance concerns about payment.
Your physical therapist: These professionals are here to help you with mobility, function and even preventing complications after surgery.
Your genetic counselor: Your doctor may recommend the services of these counselors as part of your treatment so that you can learn about the impact of family history on your health. The Center for Breast Health is staffed by the St. Elizabeth Healthcare genetic counselors.
Your financial counselor: These skilled counselors are available to answer all your financial and insurance questions and to assist you in completing all necessary financial forms.
Circle of Hope Breast Cancer Support Group
Patients and their families receive friendship, support and inspiration from other survivors. The Circle includes survivors in all stages of their recovery. Each monthly gathering has a topic for fun and education. Meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the outpatient pavilion at St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas.
National and community sources of support
To schedule a mammogram please call Central Scheduling at (859) 655-7400.
To pre-register for a mammogram click here.