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Elmhurst Hospital Center's Breast Health initiatives include patient education, early diagnosis and treatment. The Breast Clinic conducts outreach to high schools and senior centers to provide education about breast cancer and screening procedures. Via a collaboration with the Queens Borough Public Library, we have enhanced the dissemination of health care information to the public. The Cancer Program is involved in setting up educational programs and providing speakers.
Through the Queens Breast Health Partnership collaboration, Elmhurst offered comprehensive breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic and treatment services to approximately 800 underserved women over age 40 this year. In addition, at the annual Mother's Day Mammogram event, 667 women were screened; education about breast cancer and breast self-exam were also provided.
We are purchasing a digital mammography unit that will offer an enhanced, filmless image. Approximately 150 stereotactic breast biopsies have been performed by the Surgery Department since October 2000, when the new service was initiated. Being a minimally invasive way to obtain a tissue pathology of small non-palpable suspicious mammogram abnormalities, it requires only local anesthesia and is not done in the Operating Room. This has increased the efficiency of scheduling breast biopsies, usually within three weeks of initial surgical evaluation, and has increased patient confidence by providing quick, definitive tissue diagnoses.
Sentinel node biopsies help to diagnose the first lymph node to which cancer cells have spread after leaving the area of the primary tumor. During 2001, the breast surgeons and nuclear medicine physicians performed a total of 31 biopsies. As the surgeons become more proficient in this technique, patients will require less-extensive axillary lymph node dissections.