By Amy J. Litterini, PT, DPT

MaineHealth Cancer Care Network Program Manager, Survivorship

This special month can be an opportunity to celebrate and rejoice about what they’ve been able to overcome personally facing the challenges of breast cancer. For some, the symbolic pink ribbons are a reminder of witnessing the real struggles fought, and still being fought, by their loved ones. Still for providers in breast health, it’s an opportunity for us to honor all who have sought our care and to draw attention to this important diagnosis in hopes of increasing screening rates and ultimately improving the likelihood of early detection.

Cancer awareness begins with prevention and early detection education in public health and continues with the individual cancer survivor experience. Across the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network, our vision of comprehensive cancer care extends across the spectrum from community wellness, risk assessment and prevention through survivorship care for the balance of life.

Knowledge is Power

According to the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship, the term cancer survivor is applied to anyone with a history of cancer from the day of diagnosis through the balance of life. Cancer survivorship includes those individuals living with, through and beyond cancer. Advocating for oneself and seeking survivorship resources are key. Our team includes health education specialists and a Learning Resource Center available to assist the general community, and cancer survivors, alike. For more information, visit mainehealth.org/cancer.

Advances in Technology

The last few years have provided many opportunities for advances in the standards of breast oncology at MaineHealth. Developments in new technology have allowed for more minimally invasive surgical approaches, which have reduced complications such as lymphedema (i.e. swelling), as well as overall recovery time. Techniques such as preoperative magnetic seed localization have reduced delays and improved comfort for individuals facing breast cancer surgery. Techniques in breast surgery and options in breast reconstruction have improved patient choice in cosmetic outcomes. Use of the prospective surveillance model, a practice to assess baseline and subsequent arm volumes for signs of swelling, has allowed for the early identification of those individuals in need of lymphedema therapy. Additionally, both medical and radiation oncology have embraced precision technologies and targeted therapies in order to limit the negative effects of breast cancer treatment on normal tissues.

Quality improvement of best practice models and discoveries in research inform our care now and into the future. Striving to meet and exceed accreditation standards, the Breast Care Center at Maine Medical Center is proud to celebrate 25 years of providing the best breast health and cancer care possible for our community.


Don’t delay screening during the pandemic

Balancing work and family life can be a struggle, and finding the time to get a screening mammogram may be challenging. However, it is more important than ever not to delay screening. Courtesy of MaineHealth

MaineHealth recommends women discuss screening options with their primary care providers, staring at the age of 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may want to start the conversation before age 40. During the month of October, we promote awareness for safe screening and ways to stay healthy to control and prevent breast cancer risks. Mammograms are capable of detecting signs of breast abnormalities before symptoms occur, so it continues to be imperative that women are screened regularly to reduce their risks.

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