Our approach to care surrounds the patient with a team of specialists, using a coordinated approach that results in fast diagnosis and a streamlined pathway through treatment. For example, if breast cancer is suspected, more than 95 percent of Gundersen Health System patients have a needle biopsy instead of a more invasive surgical procedure. They can go home or back to work the same day with a band aid and a plan.
Patients will be contacted with the results. If the diagnosis is cancer, their treatment plan begins immediately with unprecedented coordination. This means a short timeline from diagnosis through treatment and outcomes that match or exceed the best breast centers in the nation. The end result is excellent, compassionate care at a reduced cost.
Mammogram – Mammograms are a crucial aspect of early detection, timely diagnosis and modern treatment. An annual screening mammogram is recommended for all women starting at age 40, though younger women are urged to start yearly mammograms earlier depending on your risk factors. Frequency of screening in subsequent years varies and is something you and your primary care provider can determine together. A diagnostic mammogram may be necessary to get a closer look at any suspicious areas that show on a screening mammogram. Fortunately, of the approximately ten percent of women recalled after a screening mammogram for additional evaluation, only a small number will prove to have cancer.
Breast ultrasound – Breast ultrasound is often performed for women with worrisome lumps whose mammograms are unrevealing and those whose mammograms show an area that requires further evaluation. Ultrasound results can reassure women that no abnormality underlies a questionable new lump.
Breast biopsy – A breast biopsy is a procedure to remove breast tissue to see if cancer or other abnormalities are present. We offer multiple approaches—including image-guided needle biopsy and surgical biopsy with wire guidance—so we can get the most accurate diagnosis with the smallest amount of tissue removed and the least amount of pain and scarring. Results are generally available to you in 48 hours.
Cancer genetic testing and counseling – Our breast health experts will help you make informed decisions about genetic testing by collecting a detailed family and medical history. You will also discuss the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, how they are related to cancer and whether you would like to have genetic testing done. Genetic counseling can help a woman reach a greater understanding of the role of genetics in breast cancer.
High Risk Breast Care Clinic – We work with you to determine your risk factors for developing breast cancer. Patients with higher than average risk can be identified by multiple factors including, but not limited to, family history, reproductive history and microscopic findings on breast biopsies. Cancer risk-reducing strategies can be discussed, including medications, changes in lifestyle and diet, and—in rare circumstances—preventative surgery.
Second opinion services – Our breast health experts offer second opinions for non-Gundersen patients about results of any breast diagnostic imaging—including mammograms, ultrasound and breast MRI—and image-guided breast biopsy test results. Our coordinated approach to breast care includes fast diagnosis and a streamlined pathway through treatment.
In addition to making sure you are getting any recommended screenings, performing regular breast self-examinations can help you stay on top of any changes in your breasts. Catching any abnormalities in your breasts early can lead to better outcomes.