Preventing, Diagnosing and Treating Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can be a scary topic for women. For many, even getting an annual breast cancer screening can be an unsettling experience.
That's why the GW Comprehensive Breast Center offers a comfortable, serene spa-like setting where women can receive a variety of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer.
Staffed by nationally and internationally-renowned physicians and surgeons who care only for the breast, GW Comprehensive Breast Center offers women quality medical care along with advanced imaging and diagnostic technology.
The GW Comprehensive Breast Center has been designated a Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology for stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound and ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. The designation means that the center has achieved excellence in personnel quality, patient safety and efficiency.
Imaging Services at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center
The center offers a number of imaging options to accommodate a woman's risk factors for breast cancer:
Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound is a quick, painless and effective way to image dense breasts with no ionizing radiation. It helps to detect additional cancer in women where mammography alone may be insufficient due to their greater breast density.
- 2-D and 3-D Mammography is used for women with an average risk for breast cancer.
- Molecular Breast Imaging (scintimammography) uses a radioactive tracer that is absorbed by any cancerous cells in the breast tissue or surrounding lymph nodes to detect abnormalities. The Dilon 6800 gamma camera helps doctors detect breast cancer at its earliest most treatable stages.
Podcast: What You Need to Know About Breast Health
Rachel F. Brem, MD, FACR, FSBI, discusses the various breast cancer screening options (mammography, ultrasound, MR, molecular breast imaging) and clears up some of the confusion surrounding the current mammography recommendations. Dr. Brem also explains the advances in biopsy procedures, as well as why early detection is crucial in preserving women's lives.
Advanced Surgical Options for Breast Cancer
Advanced surgical options are available at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center from surgeons who specialize in cutting-edge breast procedures. Those options range from breast conserving treatments such as a lumpectomy to simple and modified radical mastectomies.
Doctors at the center may use sentinel node mapping to first examine the lymph nodes most likely to be affected by breast cancer and avoid more extensive full lymph node dissection procedure.
If a mastectomy is necessary, patients are referred to plastic surgeons to discuss reconstruction options. The center was the first in the region to offer the seed localization procedure that uses tiny radioactive seeds to mark a tumor to allow more accurate surgery.
Along with surgery, doctors at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center may use therapies, such as radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy, to treat breast cancer.
Acute Pain Management Service, a consult service provided by the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, is also available to help patients manage post-operative pain while in the hospital. Watch how the Acute Pain Management Service is using multi-modal approaches at GW Hospital to help breast cancer survivors manage their pain.
Breast Cancer Education and Support
The GW Comprehensive Breast Center provides support and education programs for patients and their families, including individual psychotherapy, support groups, nutritional counseling and complimentary medicine. If you are diagnosed with cancer, the medical staff will develop an individualized plan of care that meets your specific needs and coordinates that plan through a designated patient navigator who will help guide you through the entire treatment and recovery process.
The Center works closely with GW partners to offer risk-based and community focused services, such as the GW Mammovan. This mobile screening unit, which is operated by Medical Faculty Associates, makes early detection of breast cancer readily available to women in the DC area. It has also partnered with GW Hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine to offer physical therapy, massage therapy and post-op care for lymphedema.
As part of an academic medical center, the GW Comprehensive Breast Center is at the forefront of breast cancer research and prevention. Patients who are being treated at the center may voluntarily participate in clinical trials that are available through research grants from national funding sources to help increase knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Recommendations for Early Breast Cancer Detection
Doctors at the GW Comprehensive Breast Center recommend that women have annual mammograms beginning at age 40, regardless of family history, to optimize their chances for early detection when treatment can be most effective. Dr. Brem recommends that women follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for screening and early cancer detection.
GW Comprehensive Breast Center
2300 M. Street, NW
Call 202-741-3270 to schedule a mammogram.