The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with Stage 0 and 1 breast cancer is 98 percent.
That is why Lyndon Gritters, WCA Hospital lead interpreting physician for women's imaging, wants women to know a breast cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Gritters wants women to know that one in nine will be affected by the disease.
A breast biopsy table and digital mammography machine at WCA Hospital’s Center for Imaging. The hospital has state-of-the-art technology to help discover breast cancer at its earliest stages which leads to higher survival rates.
P-J photo by Dennis Phillips
"Most people are related to or know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer," he said. "The earlier it is found, the higher the survival rate."
Gritters said women should start receiving annual breast cancer exams at the age of 40. He said the exams should then continue each and every year.
"There is no point where you say, 'No.' There is no age threshold," he said.
At WCA Hospital's Center for Imaging, state-of-the-art technology is used to examine for breast cancer. The center uses three tests for breast cancer examination: digital mammography machines, MRI tests and clinical breast exams. Also, the hospital can exam a patient more closely by using an ultrasound machine.
"We have really powerful technology," Gritters said.
With the use of new technology, Gritters said the hospital is discovering cancer in patients at earlier stages. By catching the disease earlier, Gritters said that leads to more five-year success rates.
"We think so," Gritters said about the new technology increasing survival rates for breast cancer patients at WCA Hospital. "It is difficult to pinpoint, but it is going in the right direction for us."
WCA BREAST CANCER SERVICES
WCA officials said they provide all the services necessary for breast cancer patients. With mammogram testing, hospital officials offer same-day results for patients. They can either wait at the hospital for the result or they can receive a phone call.
"Most tests are negative so we want to get that information to them. The sooner they know, the better," Gritters said.
When an abnormality is found on a mammogram, the next step is a biopsy. Gritters said biopsies at WCA are done on a specialized examination bed where the patient lies face down with the breast positioned through a round opening in the table. The table will then be elevated so the doctor and technologist can work from below. Gritters said the biopsy is done with a skinny needle, and the results will be ready the following day.
When cancer is discovered, WCA officials work with the patient to find the right surgeon for them, and then they proceed with the operation as soon as possible. WCA has a certified patient navigator program to help cancer patients. Certified breast cancer navigators can help patients every step of the way, including advice after the cancer has been removed. Dorothy Carlson, certified breast patient navigator, can be contacted at the Center For Imaging at WCA Hospital by calling 664-8163.