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more articles by Foster, Cora , MD  |  author's bio

New Multidisciplinary Breast Care Clinic in Ithaca

By Cora Foster, MD


Physicians in Tompkins County treat more breast cancer than any type of cancer, with the exception of skin cancer. For this reason, local physicians have teamed up with Cayuga Medical Center to form the Multidisciplinary Breast Care Clinic. This is a new model of care for women with a suspicious finding on their mammogram or who have seen their primary care physician to evaluate a breast lump. This clinic brings together a group of specialists who are experienced in the evaluation of breast abnormalities and are committed to providing timely diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer patients.


What are the advantages of a multidisciplinary clinic?


The diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer requires the input of several different medical specialists. In a multidisciplinary clinic each specialist has input and patient care is well coordinated. An added benefit is that team members learn from their colleagues in this type of setting. The Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic at Cayuga Medical Center includes medical specialists in radiology, pathology, surgery, medical oncology, and radiation oncology, as well as an oncology nurse navigator.


What is an oncology nurse navigator?


The oncology nurse navigator is an experienced registered nurse whose role is to help newly diagnosed cancer patients manage the medical system. She is a knowledgeable medical professional, an effective patient advocate, and an educator who acts as a liaison between the patient and his or her caregivers. A cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming and the oncology nurse navigator helps ease the stress for patients and their families.


How does the breast care clinic work?


If you have had an abnormal finding on your mammogram or your physician has confirmed a breast lump, your doctor can refer you directly to the clinic, which runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Convenient Care Center in Ithaca. There you will meet with a surgeon for a physical examination. If a biopsy is indicated, the surgeon will discuss the various ways in which biopsies are performed and make a recommendation, depending on your specific situation. The biopsy will be performed that same day and you will learn the biopsy results at the next clinic.


Whether or not the biopsy is positive for cancer, the surgeon will talk with you about your treatment plan. If surgery is indicated to remove the abnormality, the procedure will be scheduled as soon as possible, typically within ten working days. Your primary care physician will be linked in through your electronic medical record at the medical center, where she or he can view all test results, reports, and treatment plans.


Is this a unique model of care for breast cancer patients?


This is a full service approach to care, which is a unique model in this region. Some breast care clinics focus only on the diagnostic aspects of breast cancer; others focus primarily on breast cancer surgery. However, our Multidisciplinary Breast Care Clinic helps patients from before their diagnosis all the way through the diagnostic process and cancer treatment.


We believe this is far and away the best approach to breast cancer care. Our specialists are all right here, in close communication with each other. This is the second multidisciplinary clinic at Cayuga Medical Center, the first being the Thyroid Nodule Clinic. Physicians affiliated with Cayuga Medical Center’s Thyroid Nodule Clinic have learned through experience that a multidisciplinary approach works well and provides optimal care for the patient.



Dr. Foster is board certified in general surgery and serves in both the Multidisciplinary Breast Care Clinic and the Thyroid Nodule Clinic. She is on the medical staff at Cayuga Medical Center and in practice at Surgical Associates of Ithaca, where she can be reached at (607) 273-3161.






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