A $2.6 million investment by Conemaugh Health System this year created a network of digital mammography screening locations across Cambria and Somerset counties.
But mammography is just the starting point for the health system’s wide-reaching diagnostic, treatment and therapy programs.
Patients whose mammograms show suspicious masses or lesions can follow up with additional views, more advanced imaging and consultation with Conemaugh’s team of experts, said April Behory, director of community wellness for Conemaugh’s Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.
“We are really working on putting an end-to-end process for women who come in for testing,” Behory said.
The system really emphasizes the team approach, diagnostic radiologist Dr. Michelle Cacek said at Conemaugh’s Laurel Highlands Advanced Imaging, 1450 Scalp Ave. in Richland Township.
“Not all breast cancer is the same,” Cacek said. “We have a conference committee. The radiologist, the oncologist and surgeon meet and discuss the patient’s treatment plan.”
Fine tuning the diagnosis often begins with an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging study, with a needle biopsy guided by the same imaging technology.
If the pathology shows malignancy, the patient may be referred to one of Conemaugh’s breast surgeons for a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Surgery is usually followed up by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or combinations of several therapies.
Radiation therapy is offered at the John P. Murtha Regional Cancer Center, 337 Somerset St. The center is a joint venture with UPMC Health System. Medical oncology is provided at the Conemaugh Cancer Care Center in the Good Samaritan Building at Memorial Medical Center’s main campus.
For those hoping to reduce their chances of breast cancer, Conemaugh has smoking cessation classes, nutrition counseling and genetic counseling help through a variety of programs.
Conemaugh’s doctors admit they don’t have all the answers to cure breast cancer, medical oncologist Dr. Paul Woolley said, but advances are allowing more patients to live longer, with a better quality of life.
“We will do everything that is humanly possible to make sure you stay well and healthy for as long as you can,” breast surgeon Dr. Gerard Garguilo said.
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