Most of us know someone who has had breast cancer, whether it’s a family member, friend, neighbor or coworker. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. It’s good to know there are resources right here at home to diagnose and treat breast cancer.
“Prowers Medical Center provides a comprehensive breast care program including screening and diagnostic mammography, breast biopsy and consultations with breast surgery and medical oncology,” said Dr. Robert Hoyer, Oncologist with PMC Specialty Clinic.
Finding a lump
Most breast cancer journeys start when a woman finds a lump or her doctor discovers one during an annual exam, or a mass is discovered during a screening mammogram.
Prowers Medical Center offers both screening and diagnostic mammograms. The machine is digital, allowing radiologists from Radiology and Imaging Consultants (RIC) in Colorado Springs to read the scans quickly.
“Digital scans are of much better quality than past films and if the radiologist sees something, he or she orders a follow-up diagnostic mammogram,” says Tammi Whisennand, Radiology Technician, (CT) (M) (R) with Prowers Medical Center’s Imaging Department.
A diagnostic mammogram provides a deeper look at a suspicious area. When a diagnostic mammogram is needed, it’s scheduled for a Wednesday when a visiting radiologist from RIC is on site at Prowers Medical Center.
“We want to make it easy for patients, so the radiologist reads the diagnostic mammogram during the visit. That way, if further testing is needed, we can hopefully do it that same day so patients don’t have to wait for results,” says Whisennand.
With an abnormal diagnostic mammogram, the next step is ultrasound or a breast biopsy—done likely that same day by the radiologist. Hearing that you need a biopsy can be scary, but it may simply be a cyst or normal breast tissue rather than cancer.
“If it’s abnormal, we have ways to help women proceed with what to do next,” Whisennand said.
When it’s cancer
To save cancer patients the need to travel out of town, the hospital brings cancer specialists to the PMC Specialty Clinic. Dr. Hoyer is an oncologist who comes to Prowers Medical Center the last Thursday and Friday of each month. Dr. DeWing is a breast surgeon who is available the second Monday of each month.
“While she performs breast surgery at UC Health’s Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Dr. DeWing provides before and after care here at Prowers Medical Center,” says Dawn Watts, PMC Clinic Practice Manager.
Dr. Hoyer and his physician assistant Lisa Adams guide cancer care. While radiation treatment is not available at Prowers Medical Center, Infusion Services offers chemotherapy here at home, so women don’t have to travel for treatment.
“The infusion center at Prowers Medical Center has been a fantastic resource for our patients. They receive the same infusion services they would in Colorado Springs,” Adams said.
“Prowers Medical Center has been a wonderful partner in the care of patients with breast cancer and other malignancies. Prowers puts the patient first, and provides compassionate cancer care, close to home,” Hoyer said.
If referrals to specialty services such as radiation oncology or plastic surgery are necessary, Dr. Hoyer refers patients to Pueblo or Colorado Springs. Patients are paired with a nurse navigator from those practices who provides support and helps consolidate appointments to avoid the need for repeat trips out of town.
“We offer the support of our social work team in Colorado Springs to help identify resources to assist with costs of transportation and lodging for care not available in Lamar,” Adams said.
When a mastectomy is needed, Dr. Swanson, General Surgeon, completes that surgery at PMC. She’s a skilled surgeon who is thrilled about the new operating room suites at the hospital.
“The new OR is state-of-the-art and equivalent to any that I work with in Denver. It’s refreshing to have top notch equipment that allows us to provide high quality care to our breast cancer patients,” Swanson said.