• read more about SMART

    TECHNOLOGY

    SMART Cancer Center: Safer, Better, Cheaper.

    • Arc techniques minimize second cancers
    • 6 MV LINAC provides maximum sparing of critical organs
    • 3D Treatment significantly reduces costs
  • Educate yourself

    EDUCATION

    Patient Education through Physician Education.

    • Franklin County Cancer Committee
    • Franklin County Breast Care Team
    • American Cancer Society Resource Center
 

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Fighting Back Against Breast Cancer

Years ago, before there were any cancer specialists in Franklin County, it was not unheard of for a woman to develop an aggressive type of breast cancer, go undiagnosed and die prematurely, if not unnecessarily, of her disease.

Dr. McLaurin and his team of oncology specialists at the Franklin County Cancer Center are working hard to change that. The Franklin County Breast Care Service, which operates within the Franklin County Cancer Center, provides education to physicians and patients alike, so that fewer lives will be lost.

“Early detection and effective treatment of breast cancer saves lives,” says Dr. McLaurin. “If caught early, the prognosis is excellent. Due to continued advances in our knowledge and treatment techniques, most women only need minimally invasive surgery. In the earliest cases, many women don’t even need chemo.”

“Treatment that produces more cures with fewer complications promotes a virtuous cycle. The easier the treatment, the more likely women are to actively participate with their doctors to catch the disease early, which leads to even higher cure rates.”

“Knowledge is power. To a large extent, the war on breast cancer is a battle against ignorance. We aim to provide women with all the knowledge they need,” McLaurin says.

Dr. McLaurin hosts monthly Breast Care Team meetings in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Resource Center, which is located within the Cancer Center. The meetings include regular presentations about the latest information and the newest techniques. The Breast Care Team is bringing a modern approach to the care of cancer patients. The fundamental principle underlying the modern approach is teamwork.

“In the bad old days, many women were afraid that a diagnosis of breast cancer meant they would lose their breast, or worse, their lives. So they were reluctant to confront the disease. Denial often led to delays in diagnosis and treatment, and, too often, loss of life.”

Many women still remember when it wasn’t uncommon to hear, “Sorry ma’am, you have cancer, I’ll have to cut off your breast.”

“But…but .. I want to keep my breast! Can’t I get a second opinion?”

“Don’t worry your pretty head about that little lady. Trust me, I’m a surgeon. I know what’s best for you.”

It seems barbaric by today’s standards to have a surgeon single-handedly making decisions without consultation with trained cancer specialists. The modern standard is a team approach, which requires communication, cooperation and coordination among a variety of physicians from different specialties. The Breast Care Team consists of Radiation Oncologists, Medical Oncologists, Surgeons, the American Cancer Society, various support services and community leaders.

“We should be thankful that we now have access to advanced, specialized medical care on a level never before seen in Franklin County,” says Brenda Solomon, an American Cancer Society volunteer and breast cancer survivor. “It is hard for me to understand why there are people trying to undermine the Cancer Center. Why would anybody want to eliminate access to highly trained specialists and advanced technology in our county?”

Sadly, the Cancer Center itself is fighting back against a tragic trend in Franklin County. Approximately half of the medical specialists who once practiced in this community are now gone. The specialists who provided access to urology, pulmonology and bariatric surgery have been eliminated. This trend has severely, if not irreparably, compromised access to quality medical care in the county.

Each independent medical practice is a small business, with offices, employees and demand for services of every type. It seems self-evident in these hard economic times that political leaders should support job creation, and fight back against the systematic elimination of such small businesses. In a classic multiplier effect, every medical job terminated translates into many other jobs lost.

A dwindling medical community has a profound adverse impact on the quality of life and economic opportunities for all citizens, driving existing employers out of the county and destroying economic opportunity.

Now is the time for the citizens of Franklin County to join with the Cancer Center as it strives to progress into the era of modern medicine, and fight back against a retreat into the dark ages of inadequate access to advanced technology and qualified specialists.