When a patient receives a breast cancer diagnosis, it can be a scary and confusing time. In addition to coping with the emotional and psychological effects, patients must prepare for the physical treatment of their disease, which can include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Keeping track of all the doctors, appointments and mountains of information can be overwhelming.
At the CAMC Breast Center, a new multidisciplinary clinic is now available that allows for more collaborative, comprehensive care of breast cancer patients. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in West Virginia, but it is also highly treatable.
"The good news is patients have many treatment options available, but every case is different, and it can be difficult to try to figure out which one is right for you," said Missy Bohan, RN, manager of the Breast Center. "The multidisciplinary clinic is available to help patients make those decisions with a team of experts and to guide them throughout their cancer journey."
"Treating cancer is a multi-stage process that involves the collaboration of many medical disciplines to provide comprehensive care for the patient," said Beverly Farmer, RN, CAMC Cancer Center director. "CAMC has found a way to provide that care in a more streamlined and collaborative way for our breast cancer patients."
The CAMC Breast Center Multidisciplinary Clinic operates out of the Breast Center on the third floor of the CAMC Cancer Center in Kanawha City. After a patient receives a positive diagnosis from a biopsy, her case will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary group of physicians who will discuss her case in-depth and develop an individualized treatment plan.
The patient is then scheduled the next week to come to the clinic and meet one-on-one with each of the members of her care team, which can include a breast surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, plastic surgeon, genetic counselor and patient navigators. The patient is seen again in the clinic following her surgery or other treatment to determine next steps. Between clinic meetings with physicians, patients are, throughout treatment, encouraged to rely on their patient navigator. Navigators are available to help answer questions, coordinate services and provide support.
"The clinic allows the patient to receive comprehensive care and treatment in a single visit as opposed to multiple appointments," Farmer said. "It gives patients and their families the opportunity to speak one-on-one with each of their doctors, ask questions and see the whole picture of their care."
"The clinic allows for better coordination of care in a complex system," Bohan said. "We want these patients to know that they're not in this alone - we're all here to help them every step of the way."