As the only breast cancer centre in Northern KZN, the new Lorraine Homann Woman’s Wellness Centre at Mediclinic Newcastle offers a dedicated and affordable professional service to the surrounding community.
Women-centred healthcare is an area of medical practice requiring specialised services that are increasingly in demand. Mediclinic Newcastle answered this need in May this year when it opened the Lorraine Homann Woman’s Wellness Centre, named in honour of the late Dr Lorraine Homann, a respected and highly regarded specialist anaesthetist.
Breast cancer treatment need
“The burden of non-communicable diseases, such as breast cancer, is growing due to prolonged life expectancy and lifestyle changes,” says Mediclinic Newcastle Hospital General Manager Japie Greyling. “A high level of expertise in treating this condition is becoming increasingly indispensable for our population. We also recognise the need for a holistic approach to breast cancer care – it’s critical to address every patient’s psychological, emotional, and physical needs.”
The centre, which contains state-of-the-art imaging and biopsy equipment for improved outcomes, takes a multidisciplinary approach, giving breast cancer patients access to 360° care during their treatment. “Breast cancer affects not only physical wellbeing but also patients’ emotional and mental health,” Greyling explains. “Mediclinic Newcastle offers a comprehensive range of treatments. We have expert radiologists, oncologists, general surgeons, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, and mental health professionals.”
The most common treatments for breast cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy, he adds.
Until recently, 2D digital mammography has been the primary imaging for breast tissue. However, it is not always suitable for those with exceptionally dense breast tissue and for younger women, sometimes yielding false negatives. Newcastle Mediclinic recently upscaled its imaging equipment to the new Genius 3D mammography, which produces fast, accurate mammograms.
The introduction of tomosynthesis (3D mammography) has revolutionised mammography imaging by providing up 15 images of the breast in top-to-bottom views and from side to side. “It also provides higher quality 3D images,” Greyling says. “Sharper images differentiate overlapping breast tissue from true lesions, regardless of the patient’s age or breast density. The Genius 3D is also more comfortable for the patient. Its curved surface mirrors the shape of the breast for a more even compression.” This technology is said to detect 20-65% more invasive breast cancers than digital mammography and enables fast, efficient exams.
New approach for breast biopsies
Early detection of cancer allows swift intervention and with it, the potential for 100% cure. “Following accurate detection on tomosynthesis, abnormal lesions are then verified via histology for definitive diagnosis and classification of the type of cancer,” Greyling explains.
The morphology, or form, of the cancer varies from one patient to another. Some are palpable (easily perceptible), and some are not palpable. A particular kind of breast cancer may manifest as calcifications only, which are tight clusters with irregular shapes and fine appearance. The usual ultrasound-guided biopsy does not work for these patients, and in such cases, a procedure called stereotactic biopsy is used.
A stereotactic breast biopsy uses computer technology to guide a needle to an abnormality seen on mammography, which is usually not visible on ultrasound. The advantages include getting the patient from mammography to biopsy in under a minute, being able to pinpoint small lesions faster, with little or no scarring. Compared to excision biopsy, it is less painful, more accurate, and recovery time is brief.
All these advanced technologies are available at the Lorraine Homann Woman’s Wellness Centre at Mediclinic Newcastle, marking a significant step in the fight against breast cancer.
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