Advocate Lutheran General Hospital
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advanced treatment options

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital treats more patients with breast cancer than any other type of cancer. The team at the Caldwell Breast Center takes a collaborative approach to the treatment of breast cancer. All imaging and screening mammography functions are now located in the same building. The multidisciplinary team includes plastic and reconstructive surgery, medical oncology, genetics, radiation oncology and breast health nurse educators.

Breast Cancer

Multidisciplinary Breast Conference

The treatment options for patients with breast cancer depend upon many factors. Options can include surgery (removal of the cancer alone or, in some cases, mastectomy), radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and/or chemotherapy. The multidisciplinary team at Lutheran General Hospital collectively reviews each breast cancer case and develops a treatment option that best suits the needs of each patient. This methodology benefits the patient by giving them a well rounded opinion without having to schedule multiple appointments.

Research has yielded an abundant amount of information about the causes of breast cancers, and it is now believed that genetic and/or hormonal factors are the primary risk factors. The Lutheran General Hospital team of medical oncologists has developed preventative, early detection and treatment staging systems to assist in characterizing the extent to which a particular cancer has or could have a likelihood of occurring. These staging systems allow the physicians to make important decisions concerning treatment options.

Genetic counseling is available at the Caldwell Breast Center to help patients understand their cancer risks based on family history or their own experience with cancer.

Technology and Techniques

Among the special screening and diagnostic technologies, treatment options and follow-up services available through the Breast Center are digital mammography, cryoblation, Breast MRI Mammotome, accelerated partial breast radiation therapy, bone densitometry and genetic counseling. Two of the newest technologies that Advocate Lutheran General Hospital features are digital mammography and accelerated partial breast radiation therapy.

Digital Mammography

This state-of-the-art-digital breast cancer screening technology is available at Lutheran General Hospital's Caldwell Breast Center. This technology allows radiologists to view and manipulate images on high-resolution computer monitors that enhance visualization of the structures within the breast tissue. Brightness and zoom can be adjusted on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses and other changes that may be signs of early cancer. The new screening tool limits radiation exposure and produces enhanced images that reduce the need for additional mammograms.

Accelerated partial breast radiation therapy (APBI)

This therapy is used to reduce the risk of cancer coming back after surgery by focusing radiation on only the area of the breast where the tumor has been surgically removed. There are two ways to accomplish the administration of APBI-high-dose rate breast brachytherapy or the MammositeTM catheter technique. Both of these methods are performed on an outpatient basis.

  • Multiple Catheter Breast Brachytherapy. This therapy involves multiple plastic tubes, referred to as catheters, being inserted into the breast area surrounding the lumpectomy cavity. A tiny radioactive seed is passed through the catheter via computer guidance; this delivers the correct amount of radiation into the catheters. Generally, the treatment is given twice a day for five days, although some treatment regimes vary according to the individual needs of the patient. Sessions usually take no longer than 20 minutes and the catheters are removed at the end of the five-day treatment.
  • MammositeTM Breast Brachytherapy. This therapy involves a small balloon being attached to a single catheter, which is inserted into the lumpectomy cavity. Then the balloon is inflated and a computer-controlled machine places the high dose radioactive seed inside the balloon for a finite amount of time. Through this balloon catheter the radiation treatment is delivered with a radioactive source called Iradium 192.
  • Prone Positioning External Breast Radiotherapy. This unique technique in patient positioning is being used in Lutheran General's radiation therapy suite. Patients are positioned prone to maximize treatment efforts. The advantages of the prone position are that it pulls the breast away from the chest at the heart and also isolates the treatment by minimizing the exposure. This innovative procedure reduces radiation treatment related side effects, while still providing the optimum dose. 

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Bone Densitometry

Also known as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DEXA scanning, bone densitometry is an enhanced form of x-ray technology used to accurately detect osteoporosis.

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Clinical Research

Clinical trials are research studies used to find new treatments and ways to improve outcomes. They may determine whether experimental treatments are safe and effective, or whether there are new ways to use existing therapies safely.

Lutheran General Hospital's Center for Cancer Care is involved in pioneering studies of potential cancer prevention and treatment drugs as well as new treatment techniques in radiation therapy. These research activities, combined with the latest technology and expertise, allow us to provide our patients with alternatives to standard therapy and additional choices for their care. Patients who participate in clinical trials not only may gain access to new treatments before they are widely available, but can play an important role by contributing to medical research that can help others.

Because Lutheran General Hospital frequently participates in cancer-related clinical trials, we are often looking for patients to take part in these studies. To learn more about cancer-related clinical trials at Lutheran General Hopsital, click here.

To learn more about clinical trials throughout Advocate, click here.

In addition to the Advocate studies, researchers across the country are conducting clinical trials for which participants are needed. For more information on current research, visit the:

American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute

Through clinical trials and research, our cancer program is committed to providing the latest advancements in the fight against cancer.

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