They found a lump. Now what do I do?
This scenario has been faced by many women, and even a few men, who have undergone a mammogram. At St. Francis Hospital & Health Services, a new breast health service coordination program was launched to help patients navigate through the abundance of options available to those with suspicious mammography findings or possible diagnosis of breast cancer.
Dr. Shellie Faris, general surgeon, and a quality improvement team took on the project of developing the program. The team wanted to create a program to act as a leading breast health service for diagnostic, surgical and treatment technology of breast disease by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach and providing education and support for patients and their families through the continuum of care.
“Our goal was to coordinate and shorten the diagnostic process and utilize a team approach for treatment recommendations that are patient centered,” Faris said. “We also incorporated a nurse liaison or personal health care navigator to be with the patient in each step in the process.”
Once a patient is identified with an abnormal mammogram, the breast program nurse liaison Teri Harr, RN, is contacted. Harr ensures that treatment plans and goals are understood and implemented, and that no barriers stand in the way of quality care.
“An integral part of the breast program is the high level of communication and coordination between health care professionals,” said Dr. Faris. “Working together to develop a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan, local primary care providers and surgeons, along with doctors specializing in radiology, oncology, radiation oncology and pathology provide their expertise and experience to ensure each patient receives optimal care.”
The new breast program was officially launched at the open house held Sunday, September 26, at the hospital. Dr. Faris along with Teri Harr provided information about the program as well as materials about breast health and breast cancer prevention.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 3,880 Missourians will die of breast cancer in 2010. Reductions In breast cancer death rates are possible by improving regular use of mammography screening and providing timely access to high-quality follow-up and treatment.
With early detection and coordination of services, the St. Francis breast program is designed to provide educational and emotional support as well as guidance through breast cancer treatment, from diagnosis to recovery.