A major international study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows early-stage breast cancer that meets certain criteria and may not require chemotherapy.
Patients are identified by genomic tests – not to be confused with genetic testing – to determine if chemotherapy is beneficial or not. Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) has been using the Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay for ten years and has helped prevent about two-thirds of breast cancer patients from undergoing chemotherapy.
"This recent study just highlights what we have" I am already determined to do this at NCH, "says Dr. Allyson Jacobson, Medical Director of the NCH Breast Program.
One patient who wanted to avoid chemotherapy was the Pallian schoolteacher Amalia Palacios, a 52-year-old Arlington Heights assistant cancer in her chest in October 2017. She remembers how frightened she was when she got the message.
"I thought," What could to be wrong? I've never felt a knot or anything & # 39 ;, says Palacios] She imagined she would have to undergo chemotherapy and the associated side effects of hair loss, nausea and more.
"It was a very scary trip" Palacios says, "It was painful because there was a great deal of uncertainty and we did not know what the result would be."
When the patient was diagnosed with Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay as recommended by NCH oncologist Dr. It that she was able to skip chemotherapy.
"The Oncotype test reports whether a cancer has a low risk, a medium risk, or a high risk of contracting outside the breast," says Dr. Jacobson. "There is information on how much chemotherapy can reduce this risk. "
Palacio's treatment plan included surgery – a lumpectomy performed by Dr. Robert Aki – followed by radiation therapy, which included dosing The breast was aimed directly at the cells. For them, the only side effect of radiotherapy was fatigue.
"I was grateful that Dr. Aki was well informed about this test and that I could skip chemotherapy," says Palacios. "I really wanted to return to my new normal, because as soon as cancer comes, everything changes."
Today, Palacios offers assistance to other breast cancer patients with the NCH Breast Cancer Support Group, and at a recent meeting they discussed the findings of the New England Journal of Medicine study and the importance of annual mammography
C-RAD targets cells , protects the heart
Tricia Hasan uses humor to master difficult times. After being diagnosed with Stage 0, Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), in December 2017, she joked, "I got breast cancer this Christmas."
Hasan, a 46-year-old Arlington Heights resident and mother of three, was often at the NCH Breast Center for annual mammograms. In 2017, she opted for 3D mammography technology instead of her standard standard mammogram. The result came back suspiciously, causing her to return to the ultrasound scan.
Hasan underwent two lumpectomies. One was done in January and another in February, when it was discovered that tiny cells running through the corridors were still present at the edge of the resection.
Thanks to better imaging and a dedicated team of medical professionals at NCH, Dr. Stephen Nigh, radiation oncologist and medical director of cancer services at NCH, "The cure rate for this type of cancer is 98 to 100 percent." Hasan's cancer accounts for 20 percent of breast cancers, and although precancerous, it can recur and it is imperative to prevent recurrence.
"Half the time it comes back as invasive cancer," Dr. Nigh. "Our entire goal is to prevent recurrence."
Hasan began irradiation in April 2018. At that time, she learned she was eligible for the new radiation technology called the C-RAD Optical Surface Monitoring System (OSMS). She was the first patient to use NCH.
C-RAD protects the heart and other healthy tissues for left-sided breast cancer patients, such as Hasan.
"We do everything we can to ensure that there is no exposure to the heart with radiation," explains Dr. Nigh. "We really believe that this technology gives us and our patients a lot of confidence."
How It Works
Hasan jokingly called the treatment "Atari Yoga," referring to the classic video game of tennis combined with deep breathing. She explained that she saw an orange ball popping up and down on a monitor, helping her control her breathing during the radiation so that the laser beam could target the cancer cells rather than her heart or lungs Your breath, they make the laser more focused, "says Hasan," everyone was very fascinated by how it worked. "
" This maximally reduces the radiation dose to the heart, "explains Dr. Nigh. 19659024] When Hasan finished her treatment every 21 days, she celebrated with a long tradition at NCH Cancer Services. "You can ring a bell and give you a certificate," says Hasan.
She adds that she is happy that she had the 3D mammogram and the C-RAD available.
"This is the first time I've done the 3D mammogram," she says. "It's important to get your mammograms."  In the first quarter of 2018 was 3D mammography is standard in all NCH breast imaging centers for the care of all patients. Patients with dense breast tissue may also require automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) for better detection.
"3D mammography is better at detecting lesions in patients with dense breasts," says Dr. Nigh. "It's just a clearer picture than the older mammograms and it certainly picks up earlier."
Working full-time and juggling the needs of her family with radiation treatments might have been more difficult if it had not been for an organized staff at Cancer Services, Hasan believes. "I never had the feeling that I'm waiting, they even give you a parking pass for oncology parking so you do not have to worry about parking."
NCH offers low-dose 3D mammography and automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) results at four imaging sites on the same day. Call (847) 618-3700 to make an appointment.