The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breast Cancer

October 1, 2012

Screenings available in Indiana, Somerset

JOHNSTOWN — Women in Indiana and Somerset counties don’t have to travel far for breast cancer screenings or treatment.

Both Somerset Hospital and Indiana Regional Medical Center introduced digital mammography last year, enhancing the cancer programs already in place.

Somerset Hospital coordinates with surgeons in Windber, Johnstown and other nearby locations to follow up on suspicious mammograms, spokesman Greg Chiappelli said.

Following surgery, Somerset area patients can choose medical and radiation oncology services close to home at Somerset Oncology Center of West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Indiana Regional Medical Center strives to offer seamless care from screening through surgery and oncology therapy, nurse navigator Susan Majoris said.

“It’s my job to work with the ladies and get them scheduled right away with the care they need,” Majoris said.

Screening mammograms are available at the main hospital and at Chestnut Ridge, Northern Cambria, Marion Center and Seward clinics.

If a mammogram shows a new lesion or changes in an area of the breast, Indiana’s radiologists can follow up with additional views from the mammography or ultrasound technology available.

If cancer seems likely, Indiana’s surgeons or radiologists select from several options to remove a specimen of tissue for further analysis. The surgeons can follow up with a lumpectomy or mastectomy, Majoris said.

Sometimes a round of chemotherapy is ordered before surgery in order to shrink the tumor, reducing the scope of surgery.

Majoris works with surgeons, radiologists and oncologists as part of a care team to plan each patient’s treatment. Often, the patient’s family doctor participates in the planning.

The patient is apprised of all the options, she added.

“(Patients) know the whole team,” Majoris said. “They know everyone who is going to talk to them. They have a good understanding of what they might be going through.”

There are four support groups available through Indiana, including a group at the Chesnut Ridge clinic outside Blairsville.

For those facing side effects from therapy, Indiana hosts Birdie’s Closet, a resource center with wigs, cosmetics, prosthetics, lymphedema supplies and other items, along with support and counseling help.

When cancer progresses, Indiana’s palliative care professionals help families make tough decisions about reducing suffering in gravely ill patients. Counseling is available throughout the process, Majoris said.

Finances should be the least of a cancer patient’s worries.

“My job is to make sure these ladies have the resources they need, including money,” Majoris said. “Everyone on the team can help.”

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