By Kristine Smith
As published in the Longmont Times Call for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
More than 40,000 women in the U.S. will die from breast cancer this year - this is equal to the population of Littleton, Colorado. Today, a person who has been diagnosed with breast cancer in the earliest stages has a 98% chance of living at least five more years, on average, compared to only 77% in 1982. The overall breast cancer death rate has decreased by about 2% each year since 1990, mostly due to early detection through mammography screening. The causes of breast cancer are still unknown: only 5-10% of breast cancer can be linked to a strong family history. Most women with breast cancer have no known risk factors. Because of the unknown cause and the key to survival being early detection, the medical community has improved methods of testing greatly in recent years.
One area hospital in the fore front of early detection and breast cancer treatment is Boulder Community Hospital. This hospital is the only Denver area hospital accredited by the National Accreditation Program of Breast Centers, a program administered by the American College of Surgeons. This increases the advantage of those battling breast cancer by offering experienced physicians, the latest advances in diagnostic technology and extensive rehabilitation services and emotional support. Boulder Community Foothills hospital has been designated a “Breast Imaging Center of Excellence” by the American College of Radiology. By earning this award, they have proven to have a higher image quality, better quality control procedures in place and a higher standard of personnel qualifications.
They were first to offer digital mammography in Boulder County. Conveniently available at four locations - Boulder Community Foothills Hospital in Boulder, Community Medical Center in Lafayette, Boulder Medical Center in Boulder and Medical Imaging Center in Broomfield - this groundbreaking diagnostic technology is key to the fight against breast cancer. Digital mammography produces quicker results and uses less radiation than standard film mammography. Patients benefit from more accurate detection of abnormalities, shorter exam times, and reduced need for repeat mammograms.
Another important diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer is stereotactic breast biopsy. This outpatient, non-surgical procedure is used to determine if breast abnormalities are cancerous. Physicians can make a rapid, accurate and conclusive cancer diagnosis without surgery. For the patient, a biopsy causes minimal scarring and involves less trauma, pain, time and expense than surgery.
With these advanced early detection tools and a comprehensive treatment program put into place upon a diagnosis, breast cancer survival rates have increased immensely over the past five years and as one survivor, April Liske, can attest, Boulder Community Hospital has played a huge role in recovering from this life-changing disease. She stated, “The integrated approach of melding both western and eastern treatments is fantastic. I utilized acupuncture, massage, mental health care, classes (specifically the Seven Levels of Healing and Clearing the Fog - Chemobrain) as well as the standard lab services and docs. Having a single point of contact to ask whatever questions came up was integral. Nanna Bo, my Breast Navigator always has resources to provide depending on where I was during my process. The proximity of the facilities was convenient and everyone had the attitude of healing the whole person, not just the cancer. It never failed to cheer me up when the elevator doors opened and Debbie was there to greet me by name, no matter how poorly I felt.” She continues, “My journey isn't over yet, I'm still receiving infusions and have future surgeries. Not all days are wonderful and I have a long way to go for my stamina to return (at least get better). I am grateful for all those that have been in my circle of support and those that I will continue to meet along the way.”