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Martha Jefferson Monday: What Does a Breast Cancer Diagnosis Mean?

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Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is concerning and scary. Many times patients don’t know what to expect, or what might happen to their health. But when it comes to breast cancer, thanks to early detection and increased screenings, there is great hope for positive outcomes.

“I think it’s important to know that most women with breast cancer are diagnosed at a very early stage and that the cancer rates for those stages are incredibly good,” shared Dr. Lynne Dengel, a breast surgeon at Virginia Breast Care.

Although Dr. Dengel knows a cancer diagnosis is alarming, she stressed that the prognosis for the majority of women is extremely positive if found early.

“Mammography is a great tool to detect breast cancer early and at a curable stage,” noted Dr. Dengel.

Thanks to education efforts of the community, and national awareness campaigns surrounding the importance of early detection, Dr. Dengel says the majority of women with breast cancer are diagnosed at stage zero or stage one. Treatment for these women typically includes surgery, and then often times radiation.

Another positive benefit for patients who are seen at Martha Jefferson is that there is a team of physicians dedicated to working together and helping patients understand their cancer care.

“Because there are so many pieces to their care to get such great cure rates, one thing that I really appreciate is working so closely with my colleagues in these different disciplines so that as a breast surgeon I can help coordinate that care by working with them and deliver a single message to the patient,” said Dr. Dengel.

Dr. Dengel is a firm believer in annual mammograms, and says the take home message for all women is to be vigilant, as early detection really is the key to ensuring positive outcomes.

“One of the things that’s most rewarding about my job is that women come in here with often a diagnosis of breast cancer, or fear of a breast cancer, and they come in with a lot of anxiety. We can help them through the challenges of treatment, and then a year or two or three years later we get to see them back, and at that point it’s all behind them.”

For more information on this topic, or the services provided at the Martha Jefferson Cancer Center, call Health Connection at (434) 654-7009.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

Do you have health questions? Get the answers every Monday morning from the experts in our feature: Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

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To submit your questions, email them to healthquestions@nbc29.com. Then, tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.