The Women's Center
Breast cancer treatment & follow up care
The Comprehensive Breast Center at Aurora BayCare Medical Center offers patients a wide range of state-of-the-art treatment options. Our collaborative team of experts comprised of specialized breast surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, plastic surgeons, a psychiatrist, pharmacists, physical therapists, genetic counselors, nutritionists, social workers, nurses and mammogram technologists. Together, through a multidisciplinary cancer conference, these experts and you will decide on the best course of treatment.
Surgery is the cornerstone of local management of breast cancer. Some women may have a lumpectomy/partial mastectomy, which removes only the diseased tissue and a safe margin of tissue surrounding the tumor. This approach, called breast conservation therapy (BCT), is followed by radiation therapy to reduce the likelihood of the cancer growing back. Breast conservation therapy allows a woman to save her breast with a long-term survival rate similar to that of mastectomy. Other women may need to have a total mastectomy.
At the time of breast surgery, the surgeon will determine the invasiveness of the breast cancer by sampling the regional lymph nodes underneath the arm. Breast cancer typically spreads first to the underarm prior to spreading to other areas. Knowing the lymph node involvement helps determine the stage of the disease. If the lymph nodes are involved, further staging is required with an axillary dissection. An axillary dissection requires removal of all level I and II lymph nodes in the underarm area. There are usually 12 to 15 lymph nodes removed.
The Comprehensive Breast Center performs a standard procedure called Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, which involves the removal of the first lymph node(s) known as the sentinel node(s). Research has shown that if this node is disease-free, then the remaining nodes should be free of cancer as well. This information is invaluable when determining the best course of treatment.
Medical & radiation oncology
Offered through the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic
With breast cancer, often a combination of treatments - such as surgery and radiation or chemotherapy - is recommended.
Radiation is a local, targeted therapy that delivers precise amounts of radiation to kill cancer cells in a specific area, while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. Radiation therapy can significantly decrease a women's risk of having the breast cancer return after surgery. Standard radiation therapy is daily radiation, 5 days a week for 4 to 7 weeks. The radiation treatments are easily tolerated with minimal disturbance to daily activities.
Aurora BayCare Medical Center was first in Northeast Wisconsin to offer the latest radiation therapy technologies that are less intrusive and help reduce treatment time:
Chemotherapy, also known as "anticancer" drugs, is a chemical agent that treats the breast cancer by stopping cancer cells from growing or multiplying. Surgery to the breast only treats the breast. Radiation to the breast and lymph nodes only treats local disease. Side effects occur during chemotherapy as it eliminates not only the fast-growing cancer cells, but also other fast-growing healthy cells, such as white and red blood cells.
Hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy
One way breast cancer can grow is due to estrogen and fat tissue in a woman's body. Hormonal therapy - or anti-estrogen therapy - is used to stop hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers from progressing and help reduce the risk of the cancer recurring.
Additional therapies that may be used include:
Breast reconstruction is an option for women undergoing surgical treatment for breast cancer. Aurora BayCare Medical Center gives you access to reconstructive surgeons that offer breast reconstruction that can be performed immediately after the mastectomy or at a later date. There are many options for women, from breast implants to a more complex flap procedure that utilizes the patient's own tissue to reconstruct a very natural looking breast. A consultation with a reconstruction surgeon will help to determine the best choice of options.
The cancer rehabilitation center
Specialists in cancer rehabilitation help to relieve the symptoms of cancer surgery, plastic surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. If you undergo axillary dissection surgery, certified lymphedema specialists will meet with you to provide education and exercises that will speed recovery surgery and decrease your chance of lymphedema or swelling of the arm. The cancer rehabilitation team will use special techniques and extensive education to assist in alleviating fatigue and pain from your treatment plan. They will teach you to become independent at managing any symptoms. Our experts design an individual program to restore a patient's flexibility, strength, endurance and function. This will help you to safely resume daily activities, both at home and at work.
Medical treatment is only one aspect of treating breast disease. Having a support system to help you cope and provide you and your family with emotional support is invaluable.
A care plan is establish for surveillance and follow up to provide a "safety net" to make sure we identify any potential problems early.
Follow-up & support
Life goes on after breast cancer treatment. We provide the same level of support after treatment as we do during your treatment. Your physicians and breast care coordinator are available to assist with any problems. Regular follow-up appointments will be scheduled and various tests will be performed to assure that there has not been a recurrence of your cancer.
We have a resource center on-site to help you learn about breast health and disease, diagnostic procedures and treatment options. There is also computer access to the National Cancer Institute that provides a wealth of information about cancer and clinical research.
If you have a breast health concern or are diagnosed with cancer, our goal is for you to feel confident that you have made well-informed decisions about your care.
Support groups & links
For Your Well Being