A breast cancer diagnosis is always unexpected and often laden with fear and anxiety. Many questions run through a patient's mind. What does the diagnosis mean? How is care coordinated among the different physicians involved? How will this diagnosis affect my life and family? And most importantly, is this the best care available?
When searching for a cancer care facility, it is important to find a program that encompasses diagnosis, treatment and support, and is administered by a unified team. This team uses the expertise of board-certified breast radiologists, breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, pathologists and oncologists (chemotherapy and radiation physicians) who work closely together and meet regularly to discuss the optimal treatment for each individual patient.
Breast cancer care does not end with destruction of the tumor. The emotional, nutritional and financial ramifications of a breast cancer diagnosis also must be addressed. It is important to find a program that offers services to meet these challenges with the assistance of a nurse navigator, whose role is to guide the patient from diagnosis to completion of treatment and beyond.
It is also crucial to consider a hospital's accreditations. In the field of cancer, accreditation from the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer ensures patients they will have access to the full scope of services required to diagnose, treat, rehabilitate and support them and their families.
An accreditation specific to breast cancer care is from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, which recognizes only programs providing the highest standards of care available in managing patients with benign and malignant breast diseases. To receive this accreditation, a breast cancer program must undergo a rigorous evaluation and meet 27 standards in categories such as leadership, multidisciplinary team approach, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education and quality improvement.
Central Baptist Hospital offers comprehensive cancer care and holds both of the above accreditations.
As a surgeon, my life has been touched by many courageous women who have been challenged by a diagnosis of breast cancer. I am proud to be part of an accredited breast program.
Dr. Walid Abou-Jaoude is a surgeon with Lexington Surgeons and is chairman of Central Baptist Hospital's Breast Cancer Program Committee.