Breast Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment Services
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women—and early detection and intervention is key. That’s why our team at the Middlesex Hospital Comprehensive Breast Care Center is as committed to diagnosing breast cancer as we are to treating it. We identify and monitor general and hereditary risk factors and use the latest, advanced technology and techniques for the diagnosis and management of breast conditions to find and treat benign and malignant breast tumors as early as possible to achieve the best outcomes.
We offer patients in the Middlesex, Shoreline, and surrounding communities comprehensive medical oncology and surgical care in a comfortable, caring environment that’s close to home. In choosing the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center, your health in the hands of some of the most highly-skilled, compassionate physicians, surgeons, radiologists, nurse practitioners, technicians, and cancer care specialists in Connecticut, and beyond.
Breast ultrasound is a compression-, pain-, and radiation-free diagnostic technology that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce high-contrast images of the breast. It helps diagnose breast abnormalities detected during self- or clinical examination and characterize those seen on digital mammography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Advanced techniques are often used to evaluate blood flow to breast masses, which can reveal critical information about the cause of the mass.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI technology is used to complement digital mammography in the screening of high-risk patients, for detection and characterization of disease after diagnosis, in the assessment of the local extent of disease, for evaluation of treatment response, and as guidance for biopsy and localized surgical procedures, such as lumpectomies. An MRI creates detailed images of breast tissue using a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency, and computer technology.
Among the many advantages of MRIs is that they provide valuable information about breast conditions that cannot be detected using ultrasound or digital mammography, and do not expose patients to ionizing radiation (x-rays).
Digital mammography is the best tool for early diagnosis of breast cancer. This advanced imaging technique is similar to conventional mammography, but allows radiologists to better manipulate and get a clearer, more comprehensive image of the breast. For instance, if calcifications are seen, they can be enhanced and magnified. This flexibility aids in determining whether further examination of suspicious areas are necessary. While digital mammography feels identical to conventional screening, its technological sophistication can reduce exam duration and the need for return visits for additional imaging.
Stereotactic biopsy is a technique in which a radiologist uses imaging guidance to locate and remove “sample” cells—either surgically or less-invasively using a needle with a hollow core—from suspicious areas in the breast. This procedure can rule out whether a lesion is malignant or benign, and may be performed using ultrasound, mammography, or MRI assistance.
Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node through which cancer cells within a primary breast tumor are most likely to spread to other parts of the body. During a sentinel lymph node biopsy, a surgeon injects a radioactive substance, dye, or both near a tumor to locate the sentinel lymph nodes, then removes it so a pathologist can determine if cancer cells are present. The procedure is often performed at the same time as other breast cancer-related surgeries (lumpectomy, mastectomy) and, if cancer is detected, may involve the removal of additional, affected lymph nodes.
Breast + Reconstructive Surgery
Surgical oncology is one of the many diagnostic and treatment options for breast cancer, and may be used in combination with radiation or chemotherapy. Breast surgery procedures include certain biopsy techniques (removing a small sample of breast tissue for diagnostic purposes), lumpectomy (removing areas of abnormal or cancerous tissue from the breast, often referred to as breast-conserving since only a portion of the breast is removed), and mastectomy (removing all tissue from either the left, right, or both breasts to treat or prevent cancer).
Not all breast cancers are treated with surgery. Your physician will discuss which diagnostic or treatment options are right for you depending on your risk factors or the type and stage of your breast cancer.
Reconstructive Breast Surgery
Reconstructive surgery can have a dramatic positive impact on your recovery, helping restore your sense of well being and femininity, so that you can heal emotionally as well as physically. If your treatment requires a full or partial mastectomy, our expert surgeons can perform a variety of reconstructive procedures—from traditional breast implants to the most innovative oncoplastic surgical techniques, which combine cancer surgery and reconstructive surgery into a single, one-time procedure. Your health care team will discuss each option with you in detail to determine which approach best fits your needs and goals.
Our board-certified medical oncologists, nurses, and technicians at the Connecticut Oncology Group provide the most effective, advanced care with warm, personal attention and support for patients and families. Your medical oncology team works cooperatively with our nurse navigator, radiation and surgical oncology, and patient and family support service teams to coordinate all aspects of your treatment and follow-up care, which may include any combination chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hormonal therapy, and integrative medicine. We also provide advanced targeted therapies designed to treat only cancer cells and minimize damage to normal, healthy cells, as well as access to clinical trials.
The radiation oncology team at the Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center consists of highly-qualified, fully-trained technicians and radiologists committed to making your treatment as quick and comfortable as possible. We have the most advanced technology to treat breast cancer right here—including Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy, Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), and RapidArc® therapy. In fact, Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center is one of the first cancer treatment facilities in Connecticut to offer Novalis Tx® Linear Accelerator technology for IMRT therapy, which provides unprecedented accuracy in pinpointing tumors to deliver more precise, higher doses of radiation with less damage to the surrounding tissue.
Our award-winning nurse navigators are your “one-stop” resource, coordinating your care and connecting you to support services you need to make your breast cancer experience as smooth as possible. During your first meeting with a nurse navigator, you will receive an information packet containing educational materials relevant to your diagnosis and treatment plan. Our nurse navigators get to know you on a personal basis, and remain available to discuss these materials and answer any questions you and your family may have, over the phone or in person, from the time of diagnosis through survivorship. You control the level of involvement you have with your nurse navigator. Often, just knowing they are here to assist in any way they can, with compassion and an open mind, makes all the difference.
Center for Survivorship + Integrative Medicine (CSIM)
Patients and families of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center get access to a variety of survivorship care and integrative therapies aimed at addressing the needs of the body, mind, and spirit during, and beyond, their cancer journey. Through our Center for Survivorship and Integrative Medicine, we offer comprehensive distress management services, education and outreach, and the latest complimentary therapeutic techniques like reiki, acupuncture, massage, and guided imagery relaxation.
The Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center offers a variety of patient and family servicesand breast cancer resources to our patients, families, and community—including nutrition services, transportation services, breast prosthesis, support groups, events and outreach, survivorship care and integrative therapies, and more.