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Providence plans breast-care center

Services are scheduled to be at one site this fall

A new breast-health center at Providence Medford Medical Center will concentrate mammography and other diagnostic services in one location.

Women will be able to get mammograms and lymphedema therapy, as well as ultrasound and bone densitometry tests in offices on the ground floor of Providence Plaza, adjacent to the medical center.

A social worker in the breast center will help women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer plan their treatment options and connect them with support groups.

The new Providence Breast Center is scheduled to open in the fall. The medical center will begin a fund-raising campaign today to gather &

36;1.5 million for the project.

— It's an idea that's long overdue, said Susan Hadley, executive director of the Providence Community Health Foundation.

If women can go into one clinic with one appointment and go through the whole battery of tests, it's very consumer friendly, Hadley said.

Concentrating all the services in one place will help women get the treatment they need, said Jackson County Commissioner Sue Kupillas, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2002 and had surgery the following April.

When you get your diagnosis, you're not expecting it, Kupillas said. You have a whole lot of decisions to make and a whole lot of people to see ' every one of them in a different building in a different part of town.

It's a whole new world, and a whole new cast of characters, buildings and bureaucracies, and you get hit with it all at once. Even for somebody like me, who works in bureaucracies, it can be confusing.

Providence's two existing mammography machines will be moved to the new breast center for its fall opening, and a new computer-aided detection system will be installed. The CAD system scans breast X-rays and identifies suspicious areas for radiologists to examine more closely.

The CAD system can increase cancer detection by as much as 20 percent, said Mike Baker, Providence's director of diagnostic imaging.

While the campaign that begins today will provide most of the money for the new center, breast-health programs have also received support from the Festival of Trees, Providence's annual holiday fund-raising event.

Funds for the CAD equipment come from the 2000 Festival of Trees, and one of Providence's two mammography machines was purchased with money from the 1996 festival. Proceeds from the 2003 festival already have been dedicated to the breast center.

Over time, Providence plans to add more sophisticated diagnostic services, including stereotactic biopsy equipment and a digital mammography machine. Digital mammography could help reduce the time women must wait for a mammogram, because it can be performed more quickly than traditional X-ray mammography.

Equipment, however, is only one of several factors that influences mammography scheduling, said Dr. Michelle DeWing, a general surgeon. DeWing noted that mammography technicians are in short supply across the United States. Adding new equipment won't reduce the wait time if there aren't enough technicians available.

The limiting factor is getting technicians, she said.

DeWing said the concept of concentrating breast care in one location is just catching on. Many hospitals in larger communities still don't have a consolidated breast center. She said the new center will really alleviate some of the psychological stress for patients who have to undergo treatment.

For more information about the Providence Breast Center, contact the Providence Community Health Foundation, 732-5193. Contributions can be mailed to the Foundation at 940 Royal Ave., Suite 410, Medford, OR 97504.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail

Breast-cancer figures locally

Patients treated for breast cancer at Medford's two hospitals (from data compiled by the cancer registry at Rogue Valley Medical Center)

YEAR — PATIENTS

1997229

1998298

1999260

2000238

2001287

2002268*

*preliminary figures