When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she has many needs and concerns. One of the most important things she wants to know is that she’ll get the best care, beginning as quickly as possible.
That’s why The Women’s Hospital
and Deaconess Cancer Services
decided to develop the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic
. I want to share with you how the MDBCC helps women and their families, and improves the time from diagnosis to treatment.
The vision behind the MDBCC
This program was brought about through Dr. Samer Schuman
, gynecologic oncologist and fellowship-trained breast surgical oncologist, here at The Women’s Cancer Center.
Prior to the MDBCC, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer often would see a number of different specialists over a few weeks. These specialists may include a surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist.
When we started the MDBCC, we put the patient at the center of care, and now she and her family come to one appointment, where they see all the specialists in one visit. The specialists are also able to communicate at one time, together, to determine a plan of care that is right for each individual patient.
Cancer care team
When I’m bringing a patient to the clinic, I point out, “Do you see that room of doctors in there talking together? That’s our cancer care team. They’re in there together—reviewing your test results, your medical and family history, and other factors in your care so they can come up with the best treatment plan possible for you.”
This helps so much with care coordination, because putting together a plan for surgery, chemo and/or radiation (or some combination of all of those) can require a lot of steps. But in this program, we streamline it into one visit for the patient.
In fact, prior to beginning the MBCC, the average number of days from diagnosis to treatment plan was 22 days. We’ve shortened that number to an average of 9 days. When you know you have breast cancer, getting that treatment plan set and started as quickly as possible is important for peace of mind, reducing anxiety and improving outcomes.
What does that one visit look like?
When a woman and her family come in for an MDBCC appointment, it’s always on a Friday. She’ll be here a couple of hours, and during that time, her team of doctors will individually come to her and her family in a consultation room to discuss her treatment plan. Each expert will describe their role in that plan and answer any questions she may have.
She may be visited by a surgeon, medical oncologist (to discuss chemo and/or hormonal therapies), radiation oncologist, and possibly a plastic surgeon for reconstruction. (Again, this will all depend on the patient's unique treatment plan and needs.) Nurse navigators
are part of the care team and will meet with the patient as well. In some cases, an oncology genetic counselor
will meet with the patient, and social workers and dietitians may also participate.
As you can imagine, this is a lot of information, but to receive it all at once—rather than over several days or even weeks--can be so helpful for a patient and her family. Getting diagnosed with cancer is already stressful enough, so to not have to miss multiple days of work, or make many trips to see several doctors, etc. can make a big difference for everyone involved.
How to make an appointment at the clinic
Any woman diagnosed with breast cancer can participate. Referrals to the MDBCC are often made at the breast imaging center where the testing and diagnosis took place.
Women can also request a referral. They can start by talking with their primary care doctor or gynecologist, or they can give us a call and we can help get the needed referral. To reach us, call The Women’s Cancer Center
To learn more about the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic, including a video that explains the program, visit www.deaconess.com/BCC