December 4, 2017
When Pauline Moy, R.N., a Labor and Delivery Nurse at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH), went to sign in for her routine annual mammogram at the NCH Breast Center last fall, the receptionist asked Pauline if she wanted to have the new 3D digital mammography. Pauline agreed, and it turned out to be a very wise decision.
Within minutes, Radiologist Allan Malmed, M.D., Chief of Radiology at NCH, was able to tell Pauline the news that the mammography showed a small tumor in her breast. A couple hours later, Pauline had a breast ultrasound, which confirmed a mass less than half an inch in diameter. Dr. Malmed told Pauline that the next step would be to have a needle biopsy—which was scheduled for that same afternoon. The results were positive for stage I breast cancer.
Within 12 hours, Pauline had gone from being a nurse, wife, mother and grandmother who needed a routine screening to a woman with a breast cancer diagnosis. Moreover, she was the first Breast Center patient to have a tumor detected by the 3D digital mammography.
The new screening technology, known as breast tomosynthesis, scans the breast tissue by rotating around the breast, capturing the data in thin, overlapping layers. System software then creates an image that can be viewed from all angles by the radiologist, providing a much clearer view of any nonstandard structures, such as microcalcifications or tumors, even when they are very small.
Pauline then moved to the treatment phase, under the care of Breast Surgeon Allyson Jacobson, M.D., Radiation Oncologist Philip Lobo, M.D., and the rest of the team, including Breast Program Manager and Breast Patient Navigator Christine Masonick, R.N., M.S.N., OCN.
“I had a huddle with Dr. Jacobson, Dr. Lobo and Christine, and they explained the plan of care, what my next steps were going to be and the options I had,” says Pauline. She underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, which had not spread, then went through a series of radiation treatments.
Dr. Lobo explained that Pauline’s cancer was caught very early and had no lymph node involvement. “We treated her with a higher daily dose of radiation in a smaller number of treatments,” he says. “Pauline was able to benefit from recent studies that have shown this to be just as effective at keeping the cancer from recurring as a longer treatment at lower doses.”
Pauline is now cancer free. She will take one medication for five years and have annual checkups with Dr. Lobo.
As a nurse herself, Pauline was highly qualified to assess the quality of her care. “Everyone was very professional,” she says. “They explained everything before a procedure—how it was going to be done and what to expect after the treatment. They listened to my concerns and answered questions that I had.”
“I am more than grateful that NCH has 3D mammograms, and not just at the hospital, but at other sites,” concludes Pauline. “I can’t imagine how long the cancer would have spread if it were not caught early.”
Learn more about screenings, diagnosis and treatments available at the NCH Breast Center.