Breast cancer care in Savannah, Georgia

The breast cancer services offered at The Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI) are led by skilled breast surgeons and oncologists who are committed to providing comprehensive cancer care. Our team in Southeast Georgia is here to assist with your medical, physical and emotional needs throughout cancer treatment.

Our program offers advanced therapies that attack cancer cells without damaging healthy tissues. We use the latest in cancer technologies to provide our patients with high-level cancer care.

To learn more about our breast cancer treatments, please call us at 1 (800) 343-3025.

Diagnosing breast cancer

If an abnormality is found on a screening mammogram, we may perform a biopsy to remove a portion of tissue for further testing. Our breast biopsy services include:

  • Stereotactic needle biopsy to pinpoint the exact location of a breast lump and remove a tissue sample
  • Ultrasound-guided needle biopsy to locate and remove a sample of suspicious tissue
  • MRI-guided biopsy to pinpoint and remove tissue samples for testing

A cancer diagnosis does not necessarily follow a biopsy. Sometimes, potential abnormalities can turn out to be a false alarm or a benign breast condition. If you do receive a cancer diagnosis, you can trust the quality of care you will receive at our cancer center.

Our Early Action Screening Program provides individualized plans to help high-risk women reduce their risk of cancer and increase their chances for early detection.

Breast cancer treatment options

If breast cancer is diagnosed, we provide a range of treatment options. We are able to individualize treatment plans for every patient and provide both surgical and medical oncology treatments. Our breast cancer treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy/endocrine (hormone) therapy
  • Clinical trials
  • Lumpectomy (breast-conserving surgery)
  • Mastectomy
  • Radiation therapy

Breast radiation services

Advances in radiation treatment allow our team to target and stop cancer cells more effectively than ever before. We offer whole breast and partial radiation treatments using the latest in radiation equipment and technology. We are committed to providing our patients with access to breakthroughs in cancer treatment.

Our advanced technologies allow our radiation oncologists to deliver powerful doses of radiation with extreme accuracy. This allows us to precisely target tumors and spare healthy surrounding tissues and organs. Radiation therapy can now be delivered in minutes.

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT)

IORT combines surgery and radiation therapy into one single procedure during early stage breast cancer treatment. This is accomplished by placing an applicator in the tumor cavity during a lumpectomy procedure. The applicator delivers low-energy radiation directly into the tumor bed to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and prevent future recurrence.

One of the greatest benefits of IORT is a reduction in treatment time. A lumpectomy is typically followed by six weeks of daily radiation therapy.

Breast surgery services

Our comprehensive surgical care includes breast surgery services, such as:

  • Axillary node dissection—This procedure removes the lymph nodes from the armpit area (axilla).
  • Breast reconstructive surgery—This type of surgery is done to rebuild natural-looking breast mounds.
  • Lumpectomy—This procedure allows your surgeon to remove the cancerous tissue and some surrounding tissue in the breast while leaving as much normal, healthy tissue as possible. It is also called breast-conserving surgery as it leaves some of the natural breast in tact.
  • Mastectomy—This procedure removes the entire breast or breasts as a cancer treatment and/or prevention strategy. We perform nipple-sparing and skin-sparing mastectomies.
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy—This type of biopsy removes the sentinel lymph node to determine if cancer is present.

After surgery, you will remain in the hospital for one to three days. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions regarding rest, pain management, drain care and wound care. Every surgical procedure carries some amount of risk. Your doctor will discuss potential complications of breast reconstruction with you prior to surgery.

Breast reconstructive surgery

Our hospital's breast reconstruction program is led by skilled surgeons who are experts in rebuilding natural-looking breast mounds. Our surgeons work hard to closely match the form, size and symmetry of the natural breast. Most women are candidates for breast reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy. Certain factors may impact the ability to perform breast reconstruction, such as:

  • Size and location of the cancer, which impacts the amount of tissue that must be removed during a mastectomy
  • Issues related to previous surgery, radiation therapy or other medical conditions
  • Other health concerns, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and smoking

Types of breast reconstruction

With the expander/implant reconstruction technique, the surgeon will place an expander (an empty silicone pocket) beneath the pectoral muscle. The expander is gradually filled with saline over the span of several weeks, allowing the skin to expand and grow naturally. Later, an implant filled with saline or silicone gel is placed into the space created by the expander.

Another type of reconstructive surgery we offer is autologous/natural tissue reconstruction, which allows for a woman's own tissue to be used in constructing a new breast mound. We perform several types of autologous tissue reconstruction procedures, including:

  • Transverse rectus abdominis (TRAM ) flap—Using this technique, the surgeon creates the TRAM flap by removing fat, skin and muscle from the abdomen. The flap is tunneled under the skin and up to the chest wall to create a breast mound.
  • Latissimus dorsi (back) flap—This technique is similar to a TRAM procedure, except that the fat, skin and muscle are tunneled in from the upper back instead of the abdomen.
  • Deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP) flap microvascular surgery—This technique also removes skin, tissue and blood vessels from the lower back, but it does not require the need to cut the abdominal muscle. Using a high-definition microscope, the blood vessels are reattached at the mastectomy site. Because working blood vessels are reattached, the breast mound has a constant supply of blood. This procedure requires a slightly longer surgery and hospital stay but preserves more abdominal function.

Preparing for breast reconstruction

Prior to your reconstructive surgery, we will schedule a pre-surgical interview. You will talk with a registered nurse about your medical history, receive information about the procedure, receive pre-surgical instructions and be able to ask questions. Our breast care nurse navigator is also available to assist you throughout treatment.