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Breast Cancer Update with Dr. Fang

Breast Cancer Update with Dr. Fang

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Center’s breast cancer radiation oncologist expert, L. Christine Fang, MD, recently spoke to us about the latest news on screening and treatment.

For people with average risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that patients get a first mammogram screening at age 40. “In addition to periodic mammograms, patients should also continue to have their annual well-check with their doctor and limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day,” says Dr. Fang.

When a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, many treatment options are available, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation. Most early-stage breast cancers where doctors perform a lumpectomy will require radiation. And new developments in radiation treatment for breast cancer are further improving this practice.

“We've just opened an ancillary National Institutes of Health-funded study to the established national RADCOMP breast cancer clinical trial we offer here,” Dr. Fang says. The RADCOMP trial is a randomized study comparing outcomes and heart events between photon and proton radiation for breast cancer. Patients can now also choose to participate in the ancillary study, which will look at heart function in more detail and is conducted by members of the cardiology department at UW Medicine and SCCA.

“Clinical trials are important for several reasons,” says Dr. Fang. “They allow us to advance medicine. Without clinical trials, we wouldn't know with confidence whether a novel therapy is better or worse. It also ensures that we are only moving forward with the most advanced and impactful therapies, offering new therapies in the safest way possible.”

In the past year, Dr. Fang has heard from patients about their concerns coming into a medical facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It's on the minds of many patients,” she says, “and even if it may not cause them to delay screening or treatment, some express a lot of anxiety about it.”

At SCCA and the Center, we have infection prevention guidelines in place, including routine screening at all facilities, universal masking and sanitizing, room disinfection and droplet precautions. If a patient is already in treatment when they become positive, SCCA implements many other safety protocols. Additionally, and in adherence to Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate, all SCCA workers will be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

If you have questions about screening for breast cancer or treatment, please call (844) 675-1627 or (855) 557-0555.