The chance of dying from breast cancer has dropped significantly over the years as detection and treatment have improved, according to area doctors who routinely treat the disease.
Dr Adeola Fakolade, a family physician at Ashtabula County Medical Center, said the survival rate for women with breast cancer is 99% over a five-year period. She said screening and treatment procedures mean breast cancer is not the death sentence it was many years ago.
Fakolade said she emphasizes “screening, screening, screening” with patients and if there is a history of breast cancer in the family, a discussion of the possibility of genetic testing as an assessment. risk is a potential option.
“A lot of it is early diagnosis,” she said of the increased survival rate for women with breast cancer.
Treatment for women with breast cancer has expanded dramatically, Fakolade said. She said radical mastectomy was the main form of treatment many years ago, but the options have expanded dramatically.
One of the significant advances in the treatment of breast cancer is immunotherapy, she said.
Treatments help the body fight the disease itself. The process adjusts the immune system to fight cancer cells.
Dr. Amitabh Goel, a surgeon at UH Hospitals, agreed that there have been many changes in breast cancer treatment over the years. He said one of the big benefits for area residents is more treatment available in Ashtabula County.
Goel said breast cancer surgery is done at UH Geneva, but county patients can get their follow-up treatment in Geneva or Conneaut due to the expansion of the Seidman Cancer Center.
Goel said a board of 15 to 20 doctors and other specialists work together on a “tumor committee” that assesses each patient before treatment options are finalized.
“They [the health care professionals] are from all over the [UH] system,” Goel said.
He said surgical techniques have also improved dramatically over the years, providing less invasive options with less disfigurement.
Goel said medical staff are working hard to provide support to people with breast cancer and also refer them for help to CSC or other options to receive help at such a difficult time.
The need for annual mammograms for women over 40 cannot be overstated, Goel said. He said women should schedule a mammogram even if they are uninsured.
He said the annual breast cancer walk, which took place recently at Geneva high school, raises funds to help women who cannot afford the cost of a mammogram.