The conference has ended and the Sarasota Florida delegation is home at last. What an exciting time it has been. The conference as mentioned in my last post brings together all of the professional disciplines involved with breast health care from across the nation and internationally. The speakers are all well known individuals in their field discussing the latest technologies and tools currently available as well as those that are coming down the pike.
My last post talked about the opening conference schedule and rest of the conference was divided up by specialty with focused instruction on nursing navigation, medical oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, and surgical techniques which include breast reconstruction. The nurse navigator talks were about the positive impact having a nurse navigator can have to a breast health program. Data was provided that showed the increase in quality care provided to patients in the way of education and timeliness. The navigator can significantly help reduce barriers that would normally hold up care. Many of the surgeons in the audience reported that they rely heavily on the nurse navigator to help coordinate a patient’s care.
The medical oncologists were there to talk about new treatments available for breast cancer and ways to manage the side effects of treatment. Chemotherapy can be extremely challenging but with good communication with your medical oncology team there are many ways to handle the side effects and to ensure the patient is supported.
Minimally invasive breast surgeries that involve skin sparing and nipple sparing techniques were discussed along with the role of radiation therapy after mastectomy. Radiotherapy reduces chance of local recurrence by 66% in patients who have breast conserving surgery. These newer surgical options leave a woman less debilitated and able to returning to activities of daily life quicker.
The biggest take home message that I received from this meeting is how breast cancer care should be a multidisciplinary approach. “It takes a village” literally. The necessary members of your health care team must work together for us to achieve the absolute highest level of quality that each patient deserves. In today’s complicated health care system this phrase rings truer than ever before. The cartoon below illustrates this point perfectly.
Why am I glad I am home? Besides the obvious multiple reasons like how I love my family and my own bed, I appreciate the good health care and practitioners we have in our community. Our community hospital has hired me full time to work in our breast health center with a devoted staff of physicians, nurses and radiology technologists who love what they do every day. Our surgeons, plastic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, and genetics counselor come prepared for multidisciplinary conference to discuss new breast cancer diagnosis and reach consensus on the best approaches to treatment. Do I think we have room for improvement? I certainly do and I hope to be a part of our continued progress. In addition to the have top notch medical professionals we have in Sarasota, we have dedicated volunteers and supporters in our community that blow me away with their generosity in word and deed. I am glad to be home.