Oct. 05--One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, but the region's hospitals are at the forefront of technology and medicine to detect it sooner, treat it more effectively and conveniently and, in some cases, prevent it.
No longer do patients have to travel far for cutting-edge treatment because there are comprehensive cancer centers right here at the Jersey Shore.
Barnabas Health has a comprehensive cancer center at Community Medical Center in Toms River, as well as its Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, which this year opened a satellite at Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, in addition to its satellites in Howell and Colts Neck.
Meridian Health -- operator of Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford and Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel -- has broadened its services with a multidisciplinary breast-cancer program.
And CentraState Hospital in Freehold Township is alone in the state in offering cutting-edge proton therapy, which delivers a focused beam of subatomic particles directly to a tumor, sparing critical organs.
"Patients today are so lucky, with all the technology that is available," said Jan Dragotta, clinical director of radiation oncology at CentraState.
"The technology has made a huge difference in the experience of the patients, as well as in the care and outcome," she said.
New technologies are making treatment more convenient and effective.
"We are improving cure rates, which is really exciting, while reducing side effects and making it more convenient," said Dr. Rajesh V. Iyer, chairman of the radiation oncology department at Community Medical Center. "We're seeing more and more patients where the cancer doesn't come back."
One of the recent initiatives at Monmouth Medical Center is its high-risk program, in which patients at the breast center and its satellites are given computer tablets and asked to answer a series of questions designed to assess their risk of developing breast cancer. Those who are evaluated to be at high risk, based on family histories and other factors, meet with a nurse practitioner to explore their options, which can include genetic counseling and annual breast MRIs, considered by some to be the best way to screen for breast cancer, said Dr. Cynthia Ann Barone, a radiologist at the breast center.