After undergoing a lumpectomy, Karen McGowan of Swedesboro faced questions that thousands of women face every year. Will I need chemo? Radiation? Some other treatment? And because it was March 2020, another question was on her mind. Would she be comfortable going to a hospital for treatment just as COVID-19 was arriving in South Jersey?
Breast cancer remains the second highest cause of cancer death in women. As it continues to impact the aging female population, Inspira continues to provide South Jersey residents with the access and resources they need to defend themselves against this destructive disease.
“An important thing to know when it comes to breast health is that some women do not see or have an OB/GYN. This means that primary care providers are filling the gap between a patient’s symptoms and getting a proper diagnosis,” said Nandini Kulkarni, M.D., an oncologist at Inspira Medical Group Surgical Oncology Vineland and Medical Director of Surgical Oncology. “Primary care providers are pivotal in early diagnosis of breast cancer. In our community, the women's health specialists and primary care providers are in charge of screening patients and making the correct recommendations.”
Inspira has a robust program to help women who have a strong family history of cancer. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Inspira Health has developed new ways to help providers continue servicing their high-risk cancer patients through the Inspira Insights program. This evidence-based, online diagnostic tool helps providers assess their patients’ risk by asking a series of questions that helps design a personalized treatment plan.
“Previously, this risk assessment was an iPad-based questionnaire. But during COVID-19, we adapted this method. Now, patients scan a QR code on their phone and they are able to complete the form right on their electronic device,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “Depending on the assessment outcome, the patient is offered a consultation with our high risk coordinator—a nurse practitioner in my office. At this consultation, which can be in person or virtual, additional history information is entered into the program, and we know instantly if the patient is eligible for risk reduction treatments, additional screening or genetic testing—which we can actually send right to their home.”
When it comes to effectively treating breast cancer, Inspira’s Cancer Centers in Vineland and Mullica Hill are leading medical centers using cutting-edge technology for a variety of procedures. Joining SAVI SCOUT®, the latest tumor localizing technology at Inspira, is the BioZorb®—a spiral, bio-dissolvable marker with embedded clips that is placed in the breast after the tumor has been removed.
“This has changed not only the way, but also the accuracy in which radiation oncologists can focus radiation treatment. The BioZorb dissolves over a delayed period, and really, acts as a scaffolding for breast tissue to build upon,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “This, along with the wireless localization technology, allows us to make extremely cosmetic and hidden scars for the surgical management of breast cancer. Also, when we do more extensive surgeries like skin sparing or nipple sparing mastectomies, I would like to underscore the importance of the incredible plastic surgery team that assists us with reconstruction.”
Inspira Health takes a multi-disciplinary approach to breast cancer care, which means not only can patients get all the care they need right in South Jersey, but they can also see multiple providers in one location—sometimes during one appointment.
“What sets Inspira apart from other cancer treatment centers is that we understand our community and its needs intimately. We know how taxing cancer treatment can be on the patient, which is why we work tirelessly to coordinate appointments and tailor treatment specifically to the unique requirements of each patient based on what might be going on in their life,” said Dr. Kulkarni. “It’s our understanding that sets us apart. And it’s that understanding that makes or breaks a cancer treatment experience.”
To refer your patient to Inspira’s surgical oncology department, call 1-800-INSPIRA.