New Multidisciplinary Breast Care Clinic
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
What are the advantages of a
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
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
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.
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.