Breast cancer care in southeast Georgia and the South Carolina Lowcountry
Learning you have breast cancer can be an overwhelming experience, but you don’t have to face it alone. The breast cancer specialists at Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI) provide highly personalized cancer care that addresses your unique needs as you progress through diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
We offer a wide range of services, including advanced therapies and treatments, to ensure you have access to the high-quality cancer care you deserve. In addition to medical treatment, our staff focuses on your emotional well-being throughout your care, providing support every step of the way.
To learn more about our breast cancer treatments, please call us at (800) 343-3025.
About the Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute
The Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI) is dedicated to providing the highest level of cancer care to southeast Georgia and the South Carolina Lowcountry. The ACI offers comprehensive cancer services including surgical oncology, radiation oncology and medical oncology. Central to our model of cancer care is the belief that we treat the entire patient, not just their cancer. Through this model we also provide services to support the psychosocial and spiritual needs of our patients as they move through their cancer journey.
Breast screening and diagnostic services
Not every woman with breast cancer will experience signs or symptoms, which is why getting your annual mammogram is so critical. Mammograms help us identify cancer early, when it is most treatable.
Memorial Health recommends beginning annual mammograms at 40 years old (earlier if you are considered to be at high risk). Mammography often identifies breast cancer before any physical symptoms develop, aiding in early detection. Your best chance of finding breast cancer early is through a combination of regular mammograms, routine breast exams by a healthcare professional and personal awareness of changes in your own breasts.
The Memorial Health Breast Imaging Center offers a full spectrum of breast imaging services. 3D mammography is provided to all women receiving a screening mammogram. In addition, we are the only hospital in the region providing contrast enhanced mammograms as an additional diagnostic tool.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
It is important to conduct regular breast self-exams to assess any changes in your breasts. You should look for the following:
- New lump or mass felt in the breast tissue
- Irritated or dimpling skin
- Discharge from the nipple, not associated with breast milk
- Lump or mass under your arms
- Painful nipple or nipple turning inward
- Redness on the breast or nipple
- Rough and scaly texture on the breast or nipple
- Swelling on a part of your breast
Diagnostic services for breast cancer
If an abnormality is identified by a breast self-exam, clinical exam or on a screening mammogram, diagnostic tests will be performed to identify if breast cancer is present. Finding an abnormality does not automatically result in a breast cancer diagnosis.
Diagnostic tests we perform include:
- Diagnostic mammography
- Contrast enhanced mammography
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast MRI
- Breast biopsy services (removal of a small sample of breast tissue for diagnostic laboratory testing)
- Ultrasound-guided breast biopsies (sound waves produce images of breast structure to help locate a mass for biopsy)
- Minimally invasive stereotactic breast biopsy (mammography technology pinpoints the location of an abnormality during biopsy)
- Surgical breast biopsies (surgical removal of a portion of the breast mass)
- Lymph node biopsy (identifies if breast cancer has spread beyond the original tumor and into the lymphatic system)
We use multiple methods of localization to mark cancerous lumps or masses before the day of biopsy or surgery. These techniques help our breast surgeons easily identify the area being biopsied or removed during surgery.
Memorial Health has been accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers since 2009. This accreditation is awarded only to those facilities that provide the highest level of comprehensive care to breast cancer patients.
Compassionate care throughout your breast cancer journey
Whether you had a suspicious result on a screening mammogram or are coming to us after a breast cancer diagnosis, we are here to support every patient battling breast cancer. Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute offers services to treat both the physical and psychosocial needs of our patients. As a result, our patients benefit from a variety of specialized services, including:
- Genetic counseling and testing: identifies genetic forms of breast cancer
- Molecular profiling: tailor your cancer treatment on a molecular level
- Personal nurse navigators: cancer can be overwhelming, our nurse navigators guide you through every step
- Access to clinical trials: the latest cancer treatments, with the support of a national cancer network
- Connection to community resources, outreach services and educational opportunities so you remain supported and informed throughout your care
- Innovative treatments: that not only help you conquer cancer, but maintain your self-confidence
- A comprehensive support services program: including support groups, an oncology dietician, lymphedema therapy, yoga for cancer survivors, an oncology social worker, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, reiki therapy and counseling
Treatments for breast cancer
Not everyone receives the same treatment for breast cancer. Your care will be built around your genetic makeup, tumor location, breast size and other medical factors. To assure all treatment is tailored to each patient’s specific need, the ACI has a multidisciplinary group of providers including fellowship trained breast surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and a genetic counselor who meet weekly and complete treatment plans personalized for each patient’s specific diagnosis.
- Breast surgery
- Breast reconstruction
- Endocrine (Hormone) therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Tumor profiling
- Endocrine therapy - Use of drugs to block the action of your body’s hormones on the cancer
- Radiation therapy (beams of high-energy radiation used to kill breast cancer cells)
- Image-guided high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy (internal radiation source that uses a higher dose of radiation and minimizes treatment time)
- Targeted internal radiation treatment, called brachytherapy, following a lumpectomy
- Radiation delivered via catheters directly to the site of the tumor
- Radiation technology that adjusts beams to remain on a tumor as a patient breathes
- Tumor profiling (personalized medicine that customizes the treatment strategy based on a patient's unique genetic profile)
- Breast cancer surgery
Surgery is the most common form of breast cancer treatment. Your breast surgical oncologist will work with you to discuss your options based on your unique cancer, treatment concerns and goals. They may recommend a mastectomy (complete breast tissue removal) or a lumpectomy (partial breast tissue removal).
Memorial Health Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute offers leading-edge techniques for breast cancer surgery and a full range of procedures, including:
- Lumpectomy (breast conserving surgery where only the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue is removed)
- Traditional lumpectomy (removes only the tumor and a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue)
- Lumpectomy with an oncoplastic closure (breast reconstruction or lift is performed at the same time the tumor is removed)
- Hidden scar lumpectomy (majority of breast tissue remains intact and a surgical incision is made either in the crease underneath the breast, armpit or along the edge of the areola)
- Mastectomy (complete removal of the breast tissue, typically recommended for women with large tumors, with multiple tumors or at a high hereditary risk)
- Total mastectomy (complete removal of the breast tissue, most of the skin and nipple)
- Skin sparing mastectomy (breast tissue and nipple are removed but breast skin remains intact)
- Nipple sparing mastectomy (entire contents of the breast are removed but the skin and nipple remain in place)
- Hidden scar nipple sparing mastectomy (breast tissue is removed but the nipple and skin are left intact)
- Breast reconstruction (referrals to a plastic surgeon to reconstruct a natural breast appearance)
- Implant-based reconstruction
- Flap (TRAM, DIEP) reconstruction
- Nutrition Services
- Nurse Navigation
- Lymphedema treatment - Lymphedema occurs when lymph fluid does not correctly drain. This causes a buildup of fluid, which leads to swelling. Lymphedema may result for certain patients around the site of their cancer treatment. As part of our cancer rehabilitation program, we provide lymphedema treatment that focuses on reducing swelling.
- Social Worker
- Palliative Care