MLH - Main Line Health Inc.

06/28/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/28/2021 09:57

Navigating through breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship

No woman wants to be called back after having a mammogram, but when there is a suspicious finding she may need additional imaging, usually an ultrasound or other mammography images. If this imaging also shows a suspicious finding, a biopsy is typically recommended, and a breast cancer nurse navigator meets with the patient. As a rule, a patient with an abnormal diagnostic mammogram or a new breast lump is seen within 48 hours by a breast surgeon to determine the optimal biopsy approach.

'This process can produce a lot of anxiety for patients,' says Laura Bruce, lead breast cancer nurse navigator for Main Line Health. 'We are here to provide education and support. We tell people what to expect with the biopsy and set them up to meet with a breast surgeon. If they do have breast cancer, we will stay with them throughout their treatment.'

Breast cancer nurse navigators provide individualized guidance and support to patients, families and caregivers throughout treatment, from screening through survivorship. A nurse navigator is a registered nurse who acts as a liaison between patients and their health care providers.

'Cancer is a complex disease, and many people may be involved with a patient's care,' says Bruce. 'It can be overwhelming to a family. We help coordinate care, assist with appointments and explain testing and treatments. We help connect families with genetic counselors. We help patients find community resources, and work closely with oncology social workers. We connect patients with integrative care such as reiki and acupuncture. Patients should never feel they are walking this path alone - we are by their side throughout.'

Nurse navigators play a significant role in developing survivorship plans for patients. Survivorship focuses on the health and well-being of a person with cancer during and after treatment, from the time of diagnosis. Patients who receive survivorship care gain a better understanding of how to monitor for signs of recurrence, identify signs of late treatment effects, and collaborate with their health care providers to prevent disease. They also report less stress and an overall improvement in their quality of life with education around cancer screening recommendations and connection to community resources.

'Supporting mental, physical, social and emotional health is an integral part in overall wellness. Our Survivorship Program offers educational seminars, support groups for patients and caregivers, nutrition seminars and a lecture series called Thriving During and After Cancer Treatment. Feeling supported and connected can play an important role in a patient's well-being,' Bruce adds.

The Main Line Health Breast Cancer Program offers advanced treatment for breast cancer along with coordinated, compassionate care every step of the way. Main Line Health Cancer Care serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond.