Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis women face, with 4,600 diagnosed cases annually in Virginia. One of the most frightening aspects of that diagnosis is the unknown: is the cancer lethal? Will it claim one or both breasts? Is there metastasis? Is survival possible?
The surgeons of EVMS Medical Group believe emphatically in the power of education to allay a patient's fears, and they share information at every step of the treatment regimen - from mammography to biopsy to surgery. Every option is explored, described and discussed.
Our surgeons have pioneered many advanced techniques, including sentinel lymph node biopsy, skin sparing mastectomy, and catheter brachytherapy. They participate in numerous research protocols, including local studies and studies offered by the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).
Our surgeons emphasize a compassionate multidisciplinary approach to each patient, with a strong emphasis on breast conservation whenever possible.
When breast conservation is not possible, immediate reconstruction can be offered. In these cases, continuity of care is critical for a patient facing mastectomy: a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is evaluated by the surgical oncologist and an EVMS Medical Group reconstructive plastic surgeon at the same time. The patient is part of the treatment plan discussion, and leaves the appointment with her initial questions answered and a better understanding of what lies ahead.
Patients are advised that the 1998 Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act guarantees by federal mandate breast reconstruction after a lumpectomy or mastectomy in the setting of cancer or other benign tumors.
For low-income women and those who lack health insurance, EVMS Medical Group participates in Every Woman's Life, a program that helps provide access to free breast and cervical screenings, mammograms, and other cancer screening services. EVMS Medical Group personnel help these women enroll in the Medicaid program, which also offers the opportunity to participate in clinical trials.
Dr. Eric C. Feliberti is the Breast Center Director at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.