St. Peter’s Breast Center is part of the new Women’s Health Institute. The Women’s Health Institute is a collaborative organization comprised of St. Peter’s Hospital and members of its medical staff dedicated to developing and promoting coordinated, multi–disciplinary clinical programs tied to important women’s health issues.
The Women’s Health Institute was born out of a commitment to partner with and provide women information and access to the highest quality of care.
The Breast Center is the first of two inaugural programs of the Women’s Health Institute and provides state–of–the–art breast cancer care diagnosis and support services under one roof. Treatment and follow-up care are provided through the Cancer Treatment Center.
An integral part of the Breast Center is the breast care navigator, who meets with a patient upon receiving a positive finding requiring biopsy, and helps that patient access services. The nurse charts an individual course of treatment through the healthcare system for each patient and overcomes any barriers to quality care.
Even though most breast lumps are benign, St. Peter’s Breast Center understands that when a woman discovers a suspicious lump or other concern, it can be a stressful experience. That stress can be made worse when a woman has to wait to schedule an appointment or obtain her results. Therefore, the nurse breast care navigator coordinates radiation, oncology, imaging, and other services so women do not need to wait very long for appointments, a diagnosis, and treatment plan.
There is also a Health Resource Center staffed by American Cancer Society–trained volunteers who assist breast cancer patients and their families and friends in accessing the latest breast care-related information, education, and support, including information about clinical trials and new treatment options.
Both women’s and men’s cancer support groups are also coordinated weekly to help patients meet others and learn what it’s like to have cancer, recover from, and survive the disease.
The Breast Center is about life. The mission of the oncologists, other doctors, and technicians is to deliver the highest quality of care in an exceptional, compassionate manner, because making women well is their mission.
The breast care navigator’s consultation office is located within the Center. If further studies are needed, the breast care navigator offers emotional support, coordinates same–day biopsies, and calls upon a team of experts who can stand by the patient to assist her in every way.
The breast care navigator’s goal is to provide women with the very best imaging services available and, should they need it, the best possible plan for early and effective treatment. She also helps women maintain a close relationship with their doctor and other specialists to coordinate the care and services needed.
St. Peter’s is proud to be an American College of Radiology—MQSA/FDA accredited mammography site. Digital Mammography equipment is utilized versus film/screen equipment for its ability to better detect breast cancers in women 50 and younger, in pre– and perimenopausal women, and in women with dense breast tissue. An increase in accuracy means earlier detection and more importantly, a better chance for effective treatment.
Radiologists also use cutting edge Stereotactic Breast Biopsy equipment for tissue sampling. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also available to detect breast cancer early in high–risk women and to more accurately diagnose the extent of disease in women with breast cancer. Computer assisted detection is used with all screening mammograms to analyze images and provide radiologists a focal point for detection. All imaging tests are read and interpreted by radiologists.
Breast cancer remains one of the three most commonly diagnosed types of cancer among women. Twenty-two percent of all cancers diagnosed and treated at St. Peter’s are breast cancer cases, while the rest of the county has a 12.8 percent incidence rate.
The vast majority of St. Peter’s breast cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stage of the disease. The majority of St. Peter’s breast cancer patients tend to be slightly younger than the national average, primarily in the 50–59 year old age group. The five–year survivor rate for localized breast cancer has steadily increased since 1990.
The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons has recognized St. Peter’s Cancer Treatment Center as offering high–quality cancer care. Only one in four cancer programs at hospitals across the United States receives this special approval.
The Commission recently granted Three–Year Approval with Commendation to the Cancer Program at St. Peter’s. The commendation recognizes the Hospital’s quality of comprehensive patient care and commitment to provide the community with access to all of the various medical specialists involved in diagnosing and treating cancer.
St. Peter’s is also proud of its leadership role in breast cancer education. Physicians, technologists, nurse educators, dietitians, and physical therapists are all actively involved in community education classes and presentations. These experts focus on cancer prevention and help women do everything they can to keep cancer from occurring or coming back. They teach people how to eat right and find new outlets for physical exercise to improve their physical and mental well–being.
The Breast Center is the one place in Helena to learn about the risk for cancer. It is open to anyone who appreciates the power of knowing, the wisdom of being proactive, and the peace of mind that comes from both. The Center’s approach allows patients to get a jump on cancer.