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What to Look for in a Breast Health Partner

Consider everything from mammography to multidisciplinary cancer care teams

If you were born biologically female, breast cancer is a condition that will play a key role in your health care experience as you get older.

With national screening guidelines recommending annual mammograms starting at age 40 (or earlier if you are at higher risk for developing breast cancer), this screening test becomes a normal part of many to-do lists.

However, where you go for your mammogram and any recommended follow-up care is incredibly important, especially when it comes to the facility’s expertise and offerings.

“When you need a mammogram, follow-up imaging or breast cancer care, you want to have convenient access to the latest technologies and clinicians with lots of experience,” says surgical oncologist Lori Alfonse, DO, Deputy Physician in Chief of Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. “While most health care centers offer these services, they don’t all offer the same level of care.”

To help you access the best health care related to breast cancer screening and treatment, Dr. Alfonse shares what everyone should look for in a breast health partner:

What to look for in a mammography facility

  • Expertise

When deciding where to go for a mammogram, it’s best to look for a health care center that performs and reads a large number of mammograms each year. The more experience a center’s clinicians have, the more accurate its patients’ results will be.

  • Advanced technology

Having access to the latest screening technologies also ensures the accuracy of your results. One of the latest technologic advancements in breast cancer screening, the 3D mammogram (tomosynthesis), allows clinicians to examine breast tissue layer by layer, helping them pinpoint abnormalities with a high degree of accuracy. While this technology has been around since 2011, it is not available at all health centers.

  • Convenience

Having a busy schedule can make fitting in a mammogram difficult (even though the entire process takes less than 20 minutes). Finding a health care institution that offers locations close to your home or workplace can lessen your stress and make it more convenient. Some mammogram centers make it even more convenient by not requiring a prescription or referral (if you are age 40 or older and haven’t had a mammogram in the last 365 days).

“Our multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer care is incredibly comprehensive. When you have multiple specialists working together to identify the best treatment options for you as an individual, you can feel confident that you are in good hands.” - Lori Alfonse, DO

What to look for in a breast cancer treatment program

  • Multidisciplinary care

If you are facing a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s best to be seen by various specialists from different medical disciplines to go over all your treatment options. This is known as a multidisciplinary approach to care, which provides patients with access to doctors and support staff who specialize in their condition and work together to determine the best treatment plan specific to them.

  • Nurse navigation

Nurse navigators connect with cancer patients before their first appointments, helping gather all the necessary information for their care teams and also answering any patients’ questions. Throughout patients’ treatment journeys, they also help them schedule appointments and determine next steps for care as well as serve as a point person for any questions they have about their treatments.

  • Access to the latest treatments and clinical trials

Treatment for breast cancer has advanced significantly over the last decade. As a patient, it is important to select a health care institution that offers you the latest advances in breast cancer surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, as well as access to clinical trials (which can provide patients with additional care options).

Comprehensive breast cancer care at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute

At Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, our certified mammography technologists and radiologists perform and read over 85,000 mammograms a year at 17 locations throughout our community (including a mobile mammography coach). We were also the first cancer center in the region to offer 3D mammograms and have been certified by The American College of Radiology® as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.

When it comes to breast cancer treatment, all our patients have access to a personalized nurse navigator and are offered a multidisciplinary clinic (MDC) team approach to their care.

“Our multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer care is incredibly comprehensive,” Dr. Alfonse says. “When you have multiple specialists working together to identify the best treatment options for you as an individual, you can feel confident that you are in good hands.”

In addition to the latest treatments for breast cancer, our patients also have access to a wide range of clinical trials that may provide additional care options not available at other institutions in the area. This is made possible by our membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, which allows us to provide even more lifesaving care options within our community.

“At Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, we offer the full spectrum of care for breast cancer – from detection to treatment and survivorship,” Dr. Alfonse says. “We treat each of our patients like they are part of our own families, and we strive to make their experience as convenient and personalized as possible.”


To schedule an appointment for a mammogram or breast cancer consultation, call 888-402-LVHN (5846).

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