A team of cancer specialists reviews each breast cancer case to determine the best treatment option.
It Takes a Team to Battle Breast Cancer
Multidisciplinary group makes best treatment decisions.
Early one morning at St. Anthony's, surgical oncologist Sarah Beth Snell, MD, stands before a team of medical specialists and health professionals while discussing diagnosis and treatment options for half a dozen breast cancer patients. The multidisciplinary team, called St. Anthony's Breast Cancer Tumor Board, includes specialists from medical and radiation oncology, pathology, surgery and plastic surgery, as well as nurses and certified tumor registrars.
“Research has clearly shown that when a multidisciplinary cancer team communicates well, it can look at a woman's individual breast images and lab results, and rapidly come to a consensus about the best cancer treatment to present to that patient,” says Dr. Snell.
Treatment decisions depend on the type of breast cancer and its staging (size, location, description and risk for recurrence). Options include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy) or any combination of the three. Radiation or chemotherapy prior to surgery is sometimes recommended. Other times, post-surgery treatments are more appropriate. All team members regularly check with St. Anthony's Clinical Research Coordinator to see if patients are eligible for clinical trials offered at the medical center. Genetic testing also may be recommended.
“The caution I always tell breast cancer patients and their families is that genetic testing isn't fail-safe,” says Dr. Snell. “The gold standard, BRCA testing for specific genes, only tests for 15 percent of inherited breast cancers. Even if your test is negative, you may still be at risk for inherited cancer or simply be among the 1 in 8 women who develop cancer regardless of family history.”
The bottom line, says Dr. Snell, is to beat breast cancer by catching it as early as possible. “The best defense is a strong offense. I still advocate annual mammograms for women over age 40,” she says. “Ten percent of all cancers are not seen on imaging, though, so women must do regular self-breast exams, too.”
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
At St. Anthony's, our vision is to be the area's premier health care organization
— and your first choice for health care services.