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Spotlight on the Breast Cancer Program: Best Practices in Breast Cancer Care

Reception WaitingMemorial Hermann strives to give women the best breast imaging experience available at 19 Houston-area locations, combining advanced technology with fellowship-trained radiologists and a comfortable environment.

If a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, comprehensive breast care is provided by affiliated specialists in medical, surgical and radiation oncology, who work in concert with breast oncology nurse navigators, social workers and other healthcare professionals to help patients navigate the entire cancer journey.

“At Memorial Hermann we have very high-quality physician providers. We have multiple convenient locations across the city for screening and diagnosis.,” says Sandy Miller, vice president of the Memorial Hermann Oncology Service Line. “We work hard to be part of our community by providing outreach and education. Our work with the provider community includes facilitating weekly breast cancer conferences that encourage a collaborative approach to breast cancer care. All providers work closely together to create an integrated treatment plan. We’re also committed to adding the latest technology.”

Among these providers is Emily Robinson, M.D., a leading breast surgeon in Houston and professor in the department of Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Dr. Robinson has been affiliated with the Memorial Hermann Cancer Center-Texas Medical Center since 2005 and has recently extended her practice to treat patients at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital.

“Our goal is to give patients the opportunity to access care closer to home and to their primary care physicians,” Dr. Robinson says. “Memorial Hermann’s Cancer Program is integrated, and certified through the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, which means there is standardization of care across the System. Each Center had to meet ACS’s rigorous standards, and they all follow the same protocols. Quality reporting occurs in Clinical Practice Committees to continuously improve breast cancer care, including a focused Breast Clinical Practice Committee. Nurse navigators at the Breast Centers coordinate care, educate patients and families, serve as advocates and support patients throughout the journey to provide an enhanced patient experience. As a physician, one of the most important things to me is that patients can have imaging and lab work done at any Breast Center around the city and the results flow into the same electronic medical record so that all physicians on the team can easily access them. That isn’t the case in every healthcare system.”

New at the Memorial Hermann Woodlands Medical Center breast center is the SAVI SCOUT® Radar Localization System, which uses radar for a zero-radiation and wire-free aid to help surgeons locate target tissue during lumpectomies. Instead of placing a wire in the breast prior to surgery, a small reflector is placed into the breast up to 30 days before surgery. Using the SCOUT Radar Localization System in the OR, surgeons can precisely target the affected tissue within a millimeter. This precision tissue targeting reduces the risk of the need for additional surgery. The technology will be added at the Bobetta Lindig Breast Care Center at Memorial City in late 2018.

Other services available at Memorial Hermann Breast Care Centers include 2-D mammography, 3-D digital breast tomosynthesis, diagnostic mammography, digital mammography, breast ultrasound and breast MRI, as well as bone density scans and ultrasound, stereotactic and MRI breast and lymph node biopsies. Sixteen locations offer MD Anderson Breast Care with Memorial Hermann, and 16 sites offer 3-D breast tomosynthesis, an FDA-approved digital technology that helps physicians detect smaller tumors at the earliest stages of breast cancer. Tomosynthesis takes 15 successive images at slightly different angles across the breast, resulting in improved accuracy in screening results and better pinpointing of lesion location. Clinical trials using the Dimensions 3-D system showed measurable improvement in clinical performance over conventional mammography.

The trials also showed significant gains in specificity, giving radiologists the confidence to rule out cancer and reduce callbacks. Other benefits include improved lesion and margin visibility and the ability to accurately localize structures in the breast.

The Bobetta Lindig Breast Care Center at Memorial City offers the Hologic Affirm™ Prone Biopsy System with both 2-D and 3-D imaging, enabling radiologists to accurately biopsy lesions seen only on 3-D breast tomosynthesis with patients in a more relaxed prone position. A breast cancer support group meets monthly at that location.

Breast care centers at eight hospitals – Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital – bring together a interdisciplinary breast cancer tumor boards comprised of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons who discuss care options for the best possible patient outcomes. There are seven oncology-certified nurse navigators across the Memorial Hermann Health System who provide additional resources to patients diagnosed with cancer.