Be A Survivor: Breast Cancer | Colorectal Cancer

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Say the word.

Just because you don’t have cancer doesn’t mean you’re not living with it.

Nearly everyone knows and cares about someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, but most of us still feel powerless to talk about it. It is a word that is loaded with fear, anxiety, and ignorance. We need a place where we can set those things aside, learn, and better understand what it means to live with cancer.

We can take back the power we’ve given the word “cancer.” We can start by not being afraid to say it.

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VIDEO: Learn About This Mom’s Cancer Journey with Avera Second-Opinion Clinic

Pink Breast Cancer RibbonSue Studt is a busy wife, mom, and businesswoman. Watch her remarkable story of her breast-cancer journey and how things simply fell into place when it came to her treatment and recovery with Avera Breast Center.

A Look at Innovative Approaches to Cancer Care


Avera Cancer Institute never stops looking for advanced technology to help its patient. Here’s a brief look at some approaches and medical equipment that truly continues the top-quality approach patients expect from Avera.

Contrast-Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM): The SenoBright CESM technology in use at Avera Breast Center, Prairie Center, allows multidisciplinary teams to confirm findings – especially in dense breast tissue – and locate lesions or tumors when initial screenings are inconclusive. Avera Medical Group Radiologist Patrick Nelson, MD, said the enhancement that CESM provides makes accurate scans easier, regardless of the patient and her unique physiology.

“We were among the first facilities in the nation to install CESM, and in just a couple of years it has become an integral problem-solving tool for us,” Nelson said. “It really helps in difficult cases, in situations where we have a positive lymph node test but where standard mammography images are inconclusive. It’s an irreplaceable part of our practice now – especially in complicated cases.”

Nelson added that CESM is less expensive and faster than MRI.

Savi Scout: Locating a breast tumor, in the past, could include the use of guidewires to assist the surgeon, or in some cases, the use of a radioactive marker. Savi Scout is a non-radioactive alternative that helps improve efficiency and accuracy. Julie Reiland, MD, Avera Medical Group breast surgeon, said the device is a distinct improvement from past methods.

“We were among the early adopters of this technology and it allows us to put a reflective electro-magnetic marker in place prior to surgery and in doing so, we avoid any issues that go with a radioactive marker and the discomfort and difficulties that went with guide wires,” she said. “It makes our work easier and more accurate.”

PEAK Plasma Blade: Radiofrequency energy allows a surgeon using this device to cut and control bleeding, all at one time. Reiland said the precision it provides gives breast surgeons an advantage. “It controls bleeding with less heat, thus avoiding the char that may come with older electro-surgical methods,” Reiland said. “It reduces tissue damage as well as time in the operating room,” The electrode the PEAK Plasma Blade employs is less wide than a human hair; it also allows incisions to heal more rapidly.

Electron-based intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT): This technology offers a concentrated dose of radiation to the tumor bed, in the operating room, at the time of lumpectomy – surgery to remove the breast cancer but preserve the rest of the breast. Radiation is typically given one month after lumpectomy to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in the breast. It usually involves daily treatment for six weeks.

IORT is part of an international clinical trial at Avera.

Reiland explained that IORT offers simplicity in terms of radiation treatment. “We know we are getting the radiation to the right area and in a timely fashion.” For women age 60 and older with less-aggressive cancers, it can be a one-time treatment and eliminate the need for any other radiation treatment. For younger women, a partial dose of radiation is given in the operating room and that reduces the number of follow-up radiation treatments down from six weeks to three weeks. Radiation after lumpectomy serves to reduce the risk of recurrence at the same site.

Avera Cancer Institute was the first facility in the nation to put this treatment to use for breast cancer patients through the international trial. Reiland said this approach can reduce radiation damage to healthy tissue and in many cases help patients avoid return trips to have additional follow-up radiation therapy.

Breast Reconstruction: Avera Medical Group Plastic Surgeons Barry Martin, MD, and Mark Shashikant, MD, recently began their practice in Sioux Falls, and the experienced duo offers their skills to augment the surgical services of the Avera Cancer Institute. Surgeons from both groups collaborate to help all women consider their approaches.

Martin said there are advantages to completing reconstruction during the initial surgery for lumpectomy or mastectomy, but that each case is unique. “Each time, we match the operation to the patient, especially in terms of their health,” he said. “In many cases they may need additional treatment post-surgery, and then reconstruction can be considered and planned.”

Avera Medical Group Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery now features Vectra XT 3-D Imaging technology. The system can help women who are considering reconstruction have clear, understandable information about the possibilities of reconstruction. The clinic is the only one in the region to offer the leading-edge imaging technology.


Avera Cancer Institute Pierre Offers Excellent Care that Continues to Strengthen

balance-blog-pierre-aciWhile excitement is building about construction of the Helmsley Center as new home to Avera Cancer Institute in Pierre, a local cancer expert reminds us that Avera already has a strong offering of cancer care services in South Dakota’s capital city.

Sreekanth Donepudi, MD, an oncologist at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital, said that while everyone’s excited about grant funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust that will help fund the construction of a new home for Avera Cancer Institute Pierre and enhanced cancer services, he wants to make sure the public is aware of many treatment services for advanced cancer now in place.

Those services include chemotherapy and immunotherapy, as well as genetic testing, which uses pinpoint accuracy matching certain cancers and the best-choice drugs to fight them. These tools to fight cancer now are available in Pierre; so too is Avera eCARE™ that seamlessly links physicians in the city to other hubs in the Avera Cancer Institute system.

“We continue to work closely with our colleagues in Sioux Falls. Avera Cancer Institute teams make use of our eCARE technology, and that puts patients and doctors in the same room, even when hundreds of miles of physical space separate them,” Donepudi said. “Many patients are surprised we can provide comprehensive genomic evaluations and bone marrow transplant evaluations, and they get these processes started without them even having to even leave town.”

Donepudi said that in addition, three full-time surgeons in Pierre, screening technology such as 3-D mammography and a full range of treatment services makes cancer care in central South Dakota vital and strong, with a stronger future in sight.

donepudi-sreekanth“We are enthusiastic about the developments that are in the work, but what we offer now is something we’re proud of, especially when we realize that most patients who are diagnosed with advanced cancer are beginning treatment with us in less than a week in many cases,” Donepudi said. “Many people assume the cancer care they need is only available at leading health centers miles from Pierre, but those services are, in many cases, available here.”

Patients with this misconception often get reassurance when they meet with Donepudi and members of the Avera Cancer Institute team in Pierre.

“That is our biggest concern, that some patients with advanced cancer don’t realize that we offer state-of-the-art therapy for their cancer, right here in Pierre,” he said. “We have had patients who travel all the way to what they see as a leading cancer center only to learn they could receive comparable care closer to home.”

While radiation oncology is among the cancer services that will come to central South Dakota with the development of its care center, referral services can help those patients who need this service.

“One aspect we do not offer is radiation oncology, but we can get patients referrals to facilities that do have it, including Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls,” Donepudi said. “Radiation oncology will be part of the additions that come with the construction of our new facility.”

Donepudi said cancer diagnoses can lead to family stress, but that efforts to inform more people around the region will help allay that stress and improve outcomes.

“Many of the exact same things you might find in a world-class cancer center are available to residents of South Dakota here in Pierre,” he said. “We may live in a rural area, but our services are leading-edge technology and equal in quality to what others may offer. When people learn this, it helps their confidence in facing cancer, because they know access to these services will be easier than they expected, in many cases.”

Learning to live with cancer will not give you cancer.

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We're taking back the power we've given the word cancer by curing fear through knowledge and support. Share your fears and send your support using hashtag #CureFear.

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Dr. Kathleen Schneekloth, Radiation Oncologist, treats lung cancer patients each day

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These numbers include both smokers and non-smokers. For smokers the risk is much higher, while for non-smokers the risk is lower.

Avera McKennan @AveraMcKennan

Lung cancer isn't the easiest disease to find in early stages, but CT scans have proven the most effective.

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.@ estimates for lung cancer in 2013 are: about 228,190 new cases of lung cancer (118,080 in men & 110,110in women)

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There will be about 22,350 new cases of multiple myeloma in the United States for 2013.