WHEELING - The road for breast care patients can be a long and difficult one but Wheeling Hospital's new cancer navigators program makes sure they do not have to travel it alone.
Wheeling Hospital's Gregg Warren described the cancer navigator initiative as an innovative new approach to guiding patients through breast cancer treatment.
"Through diagnosis, treatment is a whole gambit of activities," Warren said. "The cancer navigators are specially-trained nurses who lead patients through the process. If you're nervous or you need things explained to you, they're your friends through the whole process. They hold your hand and help you get through it."
Debby Radosevich, a breast care navigator, consults with a patient at Wheeling Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Care Center.
Warren said the Wheeling Hospital's Comprehensive Breast Care Center saw close to 3,000 patients in 2012 and became one of only 39 accredited breast care centers in the country.
"We meet the high standard for breast care set by the National Quality Measures for Breast Care and National Consortium of Breast Centers," a release from the hospital said.
Radiation Oncologist Dr. Jondavid Pollock said the cancer center has immense value through its multiple aspects of breast care including sentinel node mapping, breast brachytherapy, which he described as a shortened radiation therapy course, clinical cancer trials, breast MRI imaging and its being the only facility using the services of both a fellowship-trained breast surgical oncologist and breast radiologist.
"Essentially, Wheeling Hospital is the first in all important areas of breast care," Pollock said. He said the center continues to expand services to meet the needs of all breast cancer patients in the Ohio Valley.
To further help breast cancer surgery patients, Dr. Rose Hardin, a Johns Hopkins fellowship trained breast surgeon, offers a new nipple sparing mastectomy through which qualified patients can keep their skin and nipple while removing all of the breast tissue for a sound oncologic procedure.
"It's purely a cosmetic benefit," Hardin said. "It's a great option for treatment of breast cancer or prophylaxis in women with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.for treatment against breast cancer. I have done many and women are pleased with their cosmetic results."
Hardin said the nipple sparing requires immediate reconstruction with a plastic surgeon. "The plastic surgeons collaborate in a team effort to achieve a wonderful outcome," he added.
Breast Care Center Coordinator Jayme Nardo said the center's mission goes beyond breast cancer treatment.
"We see patients with any kind of breast health issues," Nardo said.
"It's not just breast cancer patients. There's a lot of patients out there, men and women. It's important for them to be able to make an educated decision about their treatment," she said.