Although every woman knows the importance of her annual mammogram, for many the prospect evokes fear about what might be found. Mammography often involves additional views and studies and, for some, a biopsy. Although the overwhelming majority of women receive a negative result, the process produces ongoing anxiety.
Recognizing this, Dr. Michael J. Schultz envisioned a different experience for women when he developed The Breast Center at St. Joseph Medical Center.
“With advanced digital imaging techniques, up to 40 percent of women need additional views. At other facilities, this can take weeks. If something requires a biopsy, a surgical consultation and the biopsy add additional weeks, all fraught with sleepless nights,” says Schultz, who has 30-plus years of experience.
That’s why The Breast Center created No More Sleepless NightsSM, a unique fast track that reduces this lengthy period to just a day. Usually, a pathology report and follow-up consultation can be obtained within approximately 24 hours after a biopsy. In the event the biopsy demonstrates a malignancy, patients have all the necessary diagnostic and treatment facilities in The Breast Center’s compassionate, patient-centered environment.
“Our program requires a close relationship between radiologists, surgeons and pathologists, plus the technology for biopsies to be done immediately,” says Schultz. “We have top scanning equipment—Breast MRI, CT and PET scanners on site. The entire team works rapidly and expertly to allow for full evaluation of each patient and for individualization of care!”
Customized Treatment For Each Breast Cancer Patient
Last Thanksgiving, Carolyn Bublitz had a breast biopsy on Wednesday and waited the entire holiday weekend for results from a facility that was not St. Joseph Medical Center. “My family and I spent the holiday worried,” recalls Bublitz. Her abnormal mammogram and additional breast studies had already taken weeks.
She received her breast cancer diagnosis on Tuesday, and a friend immediately recommended Dr. Michael Schultz, director of St. Joseph’s Breast Center. Dr. Schultz saw her the very next day.
Her breast cancer turned out to be somewhat complicated, requiring an extensive work-up and evaluation. “I had two different kinds of cancer tumors in both breasts,” she explains.
At St. Joseph’s Cancer Institute, each patient is presented at a multidisciplinary conference where all the experts—surgeon, oncologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, plastic surgeon and nurse navigator—discuss each patient and customize a treatment plan.
Although Bublitz could have had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, Schultz explains, “After additional consultations with Carolyn, we came up with a unique paradigm, much better tailored to her specific needs. By utilizing a novel approach in which chemotherapy is given prior to surgery, we offered Carolyn lumpectomies—breast conservation type surgery.”
“Following completion of chemotherapy, she was ready for surgery, avoiding mastectomy,” says Schultz. “I got superb results from the chemo, which shrunk the tumors,” she adds. Her surgery will be followed by radiation treatment and nine months of Herceptin therapy.
“I don’t mind driving up and down the Beltway to St. Joseph,” says Bublitz, who lives in Columbia, Md. “My confidence in St. Joe’s team is well-deserved!”
No More Sleepless NightsSM Services
Following abnormal mammogram:
- Additional views, ultrasound
- Consultation with breast surgeon
- Biopsy if needed
- Results and follow-up consultation usually within 24 hours
- Availability of full diagnostic evaluation
- Expert treatment, multidisciplinary approach