Shore Re­gional’s Clark cen­ter eyes breast can­cer fight

Kent County News - - NEWS - By DE­NAE SPIERING dspier­ing@ches­pub.com

EAS­TON — October is Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month and no group knows that bet­ter than the Clark Com­pre­hen­sive Breast Cen­ter in Eas­ton.

The cen­ter is part of the Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health sys­tem and is fo­cused on tak­ing a holis­tic ap­proach to de­tect­ing, treat­ing and ed­u­cat­ing women about breast can­cer.

The goal of the pro­gram is to iden­tify and ed­u­cate women who are at risk for breast can­cer. In the past year, the cen­ter has treated 145 pa­tients, ac­cord­ing to its An­nual Can­cer Re­port; all but one were women.

Dr. Roberta Lilly, med­i­cal di­rec­tor for Clark Com­pre­hen­sive Breast Cen­ter, said breast can­cer is a big prob­lem on the East­ern Shore.

“In Mary­land in general, there is a higher level of many can­cers, es­pe­cially on the East­ern Shore,” Lilly said. “It is sig­nif­i­cantly higher. The rea­son for that is not clear, but one of the fac­tors is the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

In ad­di­tion to the ag­ing of the pop­u­la­tion on the Shore, Lilly said there is a higher rate of obe­sity.

“Obe­sity has been di­rectly linked to breast can­cer devel­op­ment and re­oc­cur­rence,” Lilly said. “Obe­sity can def­i­nitely lead to pro­mot­ing the growth of breast tu­mors.”

Lilly rec­om­mends that all women age 40 and older have a yearly mam­mo­gram. She said there was a rec­om­men­da­tion that came out re­cently that said women could go ev­ery other year for the first 10 years, but due to the num­bers on the Shore and the risk fac­tors, she be­lieves yearly ex­ams are more ben­e­fi­cial.

“When we live in an en­vi­ron­ment where there is a higher than av­er­age risk. I just don’t want to take that chance,” Lilly said. “That is some­thing I am not pre­pared to do at this point.”

Lilly en­cour­ages any­one with a lump or a con­cern to call the cen­ter for an ap­point­ment, or their pri­mary care doc­tor or gy­ne­col­o­gist to re­quest an exam or a mam­mo­gram.

The cen­ter is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Fri­day, with Saturday hours avail­able. Dur­ing the week, the cen­ter of­fers walk-in screen­ings.

The cen­ter also of­fers free screen­ing mam­mo­grams and breast ex­ams for unin­sured and un­der­in­sured women, ages 20 to 39 and over 64, who meet in­come guide­lines.

Lilly at­tributes the sur­vival rate for breast can­cer to early de­tec­tion, mam­mo­grams and ad­vances in test­ing. She said the cen­ter per­forms 400 to 500 mam­mo­grams weekly.

“We know there is a cor­re­la­tion between the size of the tu­mor and the chances it is go­ing to move into the lymph nodes — and the more lymph nodes in­volved, the poorer the low-term sur­vival is,” Lilly said. “It is just one of those things that if it is de­tected early, the longterm sur­vival is ex­cel­lent. I some­times use the word ‘cur­able’ be­cause the fiveyear sur­vival is in the 95 per­cent rate, whereas if it spreads through the body, that drops to 40 per­cent.”

To de­tect breast can­cer, women have to have a mam­mo­gram. She said to de­tect breast can­cer solely by touch, the lump would need to be al­most an inch in size.

She said with screen­ing, doc­tors now have the abil­ity to see lumps as small as 2 mil­lime­ters.

Lilly said there also have been fur­ther ad­vance­ments in mam­mo­gra­phies re­cently that are en­abling doc­tors to go beyond sim­ple com­pres­sion.

“The lat­est and the great­est that we have re­ally got into the 3-D mam­mog­ra­phy,” Lilly said. “That is essen­tially like a mam­mo­gram, when you come in you will still get the same two po­si­tions. The dif­fer­ence is the arm ac­tu­ally moves and takes a se­ri­ous of pic­tures to cap­ture a three-di­men­sional im­age of the breast tis­sue.”

For ad­di­tional In­for­ma­tion about avail­able breast health ser­vices or to sched­ule an ap­point­ment, call the Clark Com­pre­hen­sive Breast Cen­ter at 410-820-9400

PHOTO BY JOSH BOLLINGER

Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health of­fi­cially kicked off Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month Thurs­day, Oct. 5. The tree is dec­o­rated with pink rib­bons and gets lit up at night to serve as a re­minder for peo­ple to get reg­u­lar can­cer screen­ings. UM Shore Re­gional Health staff and breast can­cer sur­vivors are pic­tured in front of the tree out­side the Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Med­i­cal Cen­ter at Eas­ton.

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