Raising The Bar For Breast Care

Surgeons who are passionate about breast care have come together for a unique program

Women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis are suddenly faced with a long road of physical, mental, and emotional hurdles. But waiting to speak with a breast surgeon shouldn’t be one of them. This is why the Telfair Breast Surgery program was created at St. Joseph’s/Candler.  The team consists of five board-certified surgeons who can meet with a newly-diagnosed patient quickly, usually on the same day.

A swift response, though, is only the beginning. These surgeons — Katherine Ronaghan, MD., Yana Puckett, MD and Charles H. Usher, MD — also share a passion for the highest-quality and most-advanced care.

With the Telfair Breast Surgery program, patients are provided with a more immediate response to any breast problem that they may have. Not only is the process faster, it is also more comprehensive—factors that can help reduce anxiety for patients as they begin treatment.

“Through a dedicated breast surgery practice, we can provide patients with a full continuum of care in one place,” Usher says. “We’re different because this is a breast specialty program that treats more than just breast cancer. There are benign breast diseases that still require the attention of a specialist.”

The seed of this program was planted more than a decade ago.

“Physicians from different disciplines started to meet under the philosophy that coming together would benefit our patients,” Usher says. “All of us were already doing the right thing but now we were focusing on how to do it better.”

These conferences grew into the multi-disciplinary teams at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion (LCPR).

“We have raised—and continue to raise—the bar,” Usher says. “We work hand in hand with medical oncologists, plastic surgeons, radiation oncologists, nurse navigators, and others.”

Dr. Usher says that bringing together the work at the LCRP with the services given in the Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital at St. Joseph’s/Candler was the natural next step. In fact, Telfair Breast Surgery is located right next to the Telfair Pavilion in Candler Hospital, where thousands of mammograms are performed each year.

“This is an extension of something we’ve already been doing really well both in the LCRP and the Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital,” he says.  “We are always improving the focus, the quality of our care, and the services we can offer to the community.”

Advanced surgical breast care has been a focus for Dr. E. Stephen Yeager for more than twenty years. Dr. Yeager is a surgical oncologist who is also part of the multi-disciplinary team that meets at the LCRP and is part of the Telfair Breast Surgery program.

“It’s been nice to see how this program has really evolved over the years,” Yeager says. “There is so much sharp discussion and it keeps us all on our toes.”

Dr. Yeager credits the LCRP under the leadership of medical director Howard A. Zaren, MD, for the expansion of the breast surgery program.

“It has really taken off, and it’s a great benefit to this community,” Yeager says. “All of us enjoy it and look forward to the multi-disciplinary conferences. Everybody benefits from all of the different viewpoints.”

With the Telfair Breast Surgery program, both Dr. Usher and Dr. Yeager have seen their commitment to the most advanced surgical care and their interest in providing high quality breast care come together perfectly for the benefit of women in this region.

“It takes a lot to stay on the cusp, to stay on the cutting edge,” Usher says. “The work can be all-consuming, and that’s how I realized, through the years, that this is really where my passion is.”

To make an appointment or to speak with a breast navigator, call 912-819-7630.

Uncommon Excellence In Common Breast Care Treatments

The Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion (LCPR) at St. Joseph’s/Candler has earned accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, administered by the American College of Surgeons.  The LCRP first earned this accreditation in 2011. This is the first and only national accreditation program to specifically focus on breast disease.

Some of the most common surgical breast cancer procedures include:

During this surgical procedure, the tumor and cancerous tissue inside the breast is removed, while leaving the rest of the breast attached. Because of new technology in the surgical field, the survival rate of patients who undergo lumpectomies is equal to that of the patients who receive a mastectomy.

This procedure is the surgical removal of the entire breast. Because of the size, type or depth of certain cases, a mastectomy is sometimes the optimal choice to prevent cancer from returning. In a double mastectomy, both breasts are removed either because breast cancer is found in both, or as a preventive measure.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy
Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped organs that are located throughout the body. Breast cancer can spread to these lymph nodes. The sentinel lymph node is the node (or nodes) that the cancer reaches first.  In a sentinel lymph node biopsy, the surgeon injects a tracer (radioactive substance and/or a dye) into the breast. The tracer travels to the sentinel node which can then be identified, removed, and tested for cancer cells. 

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